The Present Perfect

I am always stunned by the depth of grammatical memory my students retain. It's the kind of memory that is borne of understanding, not memorization or gimmicks.

Two weeks ago, one of my students, a high schooler, saw the new blockbuster movie Oppenheimer a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. "Have you seen it?" he asked me toward the end of our session.

"No, I'm not much of a moviegoer," I explained. "I don't really like theaters." For you see, dear readers, I am elderly, and I fall asleep during movies, and then a new scene comes roaring on at top volume, and I jolt awake in a slight panic. Not fun for me or my adrenal glands, so if I watch movies, I do it at home. I didn't go into all that with my student, of course. I assumed he was asking me about the movie because he wanted to talk about the movie, but his next inquiry surprised me.

"Oh, well," he went on, "I wanted to ask you about something that he says in the movie." I nodded in encouragement. He told me the sentence in question, and I jotted it down so that we could study it in our next session.

Slide that says "Next time: (from Oppenheimer) I am become death."
Notes for the Next Session

Our next session was supposed to be the following week, but I got stuck in California with car trouble, and had to postpone our meeting. We just me this afternoon, and I went over some choices for what we might study with his remaining summer sessions. "We could look at these grammar myths," I said, "or we could launch our study of rhetoric." Before I finished going through our options, he reminded me of his request from two weeks prior.

"Can we look at that quote from Oppenheimer?" he asked.

So we did. Here's what we learned:

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