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Would you agree that the present perfect is used more than the past tense by native speakers to emphasize the situation at hand? Some languages, like Arabic and Japanese, use the simple past much more. And the Japanese seldom use their version of the present perfect.

So why are English speakers so enchanted with the present perfect?

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closed as not a real question by RegDwigнt Feb 18 '13 at 20:46

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Disagree with the initial question begging our agreement — which makes everything else immaterial. Please provide citations, references, and examples to substantiate and clarify your question and position. –  tchrist Feb 17 '13 at 16:00
    
I notice you don't ask Why have English speakers been so enchanted with the present perfect?, or indeed ?*Why are English speakers being so enchanted...* I don't think this is a constructive question - but if it is, it should probably be asked on Linguistics –  FumbleFingers Feb 17 '13 at 17:22
    
As others have pointed out already, this starts off as a non-constructive question and ends as a loaded one. I am closing it as such. –  RegDwigнt Feb 18 '13 at 20:46

2 Answers 2

It depends what you mean by ‘the situation at hand’. Corpus evidence in the ‘Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English’ shows that simple aspect verbs are overwhelmingly more frequent than perfect or progressive aspect verbs in the registers of Conversation, Fiction, News and Academic Prose.

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Would you agree that the present perfect is used more than the past tense by native speakers to emphasize the situation at hand?

They use the tense that emphasises the situation at hand, to emphasise the situation at hand? Yes, they probably do. This is tautologous.

If you want to point out that something happened, and if that thing happens to have a lasting effect, then you have a choice between the simple past, and the present perfect (and perhaps the present continuous, depending on the facts of the matter). Most often the simple past will be chosen.

If you want to point out that something happened, and include that it has a lasting effect in your statement, you can either use the present perfect, or use the simple past and then make a second statement to the fact that it is still in effect. This latter choice would be rather clumsy in English.

I found my pen. I still have it.

I read the leaflet you gave me. I haven't suffered amnesia in the meantime.

I have found my pen.

I have read the leaflet you gave me.

I do not think I need to be enchanted, to favour the latter two in these cases.

In other cases where we've a freer choice between simple past and present perfect (because it has an impact on the present, but we either don't care or can let that be assumed), we tend to use the simple past.

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