Why perfecto not Preterito indefinido here?

KarenC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Why perfecto not Preterito indefinido here?

The answer to ‘they were about to finish their exam’ is given as ‘Han estado a punto de...’   

there’s no sense that this is the situation of ‘but something intervened’, and it doesn’t feel like a natural ‘perfecto’ tense to me, more just an action in the past. So I’m wondering why the perfecto was chosen here?

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Karen

All these sentences would be correct for "they were about to finish their exam":

1. Ellos estaban a punto de terminar su examen.

2. Ellos estuvieron a punto de terminar su examen.

3. Ellos han estado a punto de terminar su examen.

As what we're testing here is the structure "estar a punto de + infinitive", we are not adding any nuance to the sentences. We want the student to recognise "estar a punto de" as a way to say "to be about to do something". 

There is a note in the lesson though about a special nuance when using El Pretérito Perfecto with this structure which is to "nearly do" something but that something we understand didn't happen in the end. This sentence has that nuance. 

I hope this clarifies it.

Un saludo

Inma

SherriC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Just feedback.  For me, although I appreciate that you are focusing on the use of estar a punto de + infinitive, I thought the answer would be more fitting using the imperfect tense since there is no other information given.  I did read the note in the lesson, but in the question, there is no note in parentheses stating that there was a conclusion.  I answered correctly by elimination, but I found it confusing.

Why perfecto not Preterito indefinido here?

The answer to ‘they were about to finish their exam’ is given as ‘Han estado a punto de...’   

there’s no sense that this is the situation of ‘but something intervened’, and it doesn’t feel like a natural ‘perfecto’ tense to me, more just an action in the past. So I’m wondering why the perfecto was chosen here?

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