Translation:I bought a sheep two years ago.
Thank you for mentioning that the simple past tense is used instead of past perfect when an adverb of time is mentioned. But the above exercise was found in the present perfect lesson and the sentence is given in that tense, "Ik heb + gekocht" instead of "Ik had + gekocht". So I am still confused :(.
Oh my bad, used a different tension! The present perfect is: 'Ik heb ... gekocht' (I have ... bought), while the past perfect is: 'Ik had .... gekocht' (I had ... bought).
By saying that this is indeed the present perfect, is it now clear, or did I misinterpreted you? :)
Thank you! Yes, that is clear. But you see, the Dutch sentence was "Ik heb twee jaar geleden een schaap gekocht", to which I wrote "I have bought a sheep two years ago". This was wrong and the correct answer given was "I bought a sheep two years ago.". That's where I am confused - should my answer in English, in the present perfect, be actually wrong? If so, why?
Sorry I wasn't clear. The above exercise was in the "Present Perfect" lesson and according to the hints/tips, hebben + past particle should give a present perfect. And in English, "bought" is the simple past tense while "have bought" is the present perfect. Hence it should be the latter, and not the former, that should be correct.
You need to use both correct English as well as correct Dutch.
Here you are being taught that Dutch present perfect is being translated with English past simple when an expression indicating a specific time in the past had been used in the sentence that is being translated (e.g. yesterday, one day ago, last week).
And vice versa.
If you say "Yesterday I turned on the light and it is still on.", although you've used the past simple in English, in Dutch you will more often use the present perfect to translate it (because an action in the past, even though finished, still has consequences in the present).
The fact that present perfect was used in the original sentence, indicates that the person who has bought the sheep still has it (it may not be so but it is likely).
Thanks for the reply, unfortunately I believe you may have made a mistake in your explanation (or I am mistaken in my understanding). xMerrie has answered my question above.
The reason why simple past is used here instead of present perfect is simply because a specific time was given, i.e. 2 years ago. And in English, one doesn't use present perfect when a specific time is given to describe the event. This rule did not occur to me then and this was the reason why I was confused and posted the question.
What you are trying to describe, I believe, are grammatical aspects and it has nothing to do with simple past vs present perfect (not in English at least). Nor with the state of the object. "I bought a sheep" makes no indication on what state the sheep is in right now, only that the action of "buying" is complete.
Here, if the time was not specified, e.g. sometime two years ago, then the translation "I have bought a sheep sometime two years ago" should be correct, or simply "I have bought a sheep".
It is both. The "two years ago" thing and the present consequence of the past action. Or at least it is according to this blog: http://floatingindreams.com/2012/06/09/dutch-vs-english-past-simple-vs-present-perfect/ (find the part about "washing the car")
Yucheng, are you having trouble reading the comments on this page? I ask because your question has been answered many times here already. Perhaps you are using a smart phone or tablet that does not give you access to all the comments. In any case:
In standard English you cannot use the present perfect (have bought) in a sentence that mentions a specific point of time in the past. You must use the simple past (bought).
The reason is that in English, the present perfect is used to talk about things that started at some point in the past and have continued up till the present time. For example, "I have seen him many times". But when you are talking about just one point in the past, standard English requires the simple past: "I saw him yesterday" rather than "I have seen him yesterday".
In Dutch the rules are different. Dutch can use the perfect in many contexts in which English would not allow it. Indeed, in coversational Dutch, the perfect is often preferred when talking about a single point in the past, even though the Dutch simple past would also be permitted.
When translating "twee" into English, you can write "2" instead of two. However, when translating English "two" into Dutch, you must write "twee" instead of "2".
Why is this so? Well, this is a program that assumes you already know English but want to learn Dutch. If the program let you write 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. in the Dutch sentences, it could not be certain you actually knew the Dutch words for each number.
madjacko, does this strike you as unreasonable?