Learn English – Question about grammar “It’s been a while since I’ve ~” and “It’s been a while since I ~”

grammar

I am Japanese and I would like to ask native English speakers about what you think about the grammar in the following sentences.

  1. It's been a while since I've sat at a dinner table together with a family.
  2. It's been a while since I sat at a dinner table together with a family.

To my knowledge, the 2nd one should be grammatically correct but often hear the 1st one "It's been a while since I've ~". 
Which one do you think is grammatically correct? and if you think that both of them are correct, I believe that there is a subtle difference in the meaning. I would like to know your opinions on the differences.

Thank you very much.

Best Answer

Grammatical Correctness

I believe both are grammatically correct. If you take out the apostrophes you can write:

It has been a while since I have sat at a dinner table together with a family.

and

It has been a while since I sat at a dinner table together with a family.

Both seem fine to me.

Which is More Commonly Used

The best I could come up with for which is more common turned up the following (from Google books searches):

I've * Variants

"been a while since I've" OR "been a while since I have"

About 158,000 results

search results

I'd * Variants

"been a while since I'd" OR "been a while since I had"

About 50,800 results

search results

I * Variants

"been awhile since I" -"I've" -"I had" -"I have" -"I'd"

About 11,600 results

search results

You can also see a similar story unfolding by looking at google Ngram viewer using "been a while since I *".

Subtle Meaning Differences

As for the subtle differences, I think it boils down to the tense of the verb to sit.

  1. I sat is the simple past and is used to

express the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes, the speaker may not actually mention the specific time, but they do have one specific time in mind.

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/simplepast.html

  1. I have sat is the present perfect and is used to

say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact time is not important.

http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfect.html