Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I recently came across this sentence from an e-mail I received and have pondering thoughts about it:

I have completed an evaluation of your application file and find that the items listed below must be submitted.

Should it be "have found" in place of "find" since the activity of completing the evaluation and finding the items occurred in the past?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

I find that ...

is used in roughly the same way one would use

It occurs to me that ...

It's something you say or write as you are in the process of discovering a thing. The writer in your example could have used "have found" as well, but it is a stylistic choice what tense to use.

share|improve this answer
1  
The writer could also have used "found" while still being grammatical. –  Peter Shor Apr 9 '11 at 14:58
    
Oh yes, I find using "found" makes it more idiomatic and best suited to the sentence. The sentence doesn't sound fluent with "have found" in place of "find". But in whichever case, "found" should be the the correct word over "find" to be grammatically correct right? –  Lynicate Apr 10 '11 at 6:41

Actually, I think it's entirely possible that the sender of this email may have intended to use 'find' as an imperative, assuming 'you may' or 'please' was omitted before 'find'.

'Please find attached' is a rather outdated but nevertheless popular phrasing used in formal business emails, and the sender may have extended the use of 'find that' here. Similar to 'please note that...' in formal constructions, 'find' here is used to request that you, the receiver of the email, submit the items in the list. It is hence in present tense as the sender of the email is expects you to take note of the items in the list now and submit them in the near future.

Personally I do think that this is a very awkward and archaic construction, as popular as it may be. More context is necessary to determine the true intention of the sender, such as the purpose of the email, but I believe that this is a plausible explanation.

share|improve this answer
1  
The sentence reported from the OP would not have any sense, in this case. Instead of writing "of your application file and find that the items listed," the writer should have written "of your application file; find that the items listed," otherwise the subject of find seem to still be I. Even in that case, it would not make sense, as who writes seems to refer to what he discovered, rather than to what who reads needs to do. –  kiamlaluno Apr 9 '11 at 18:34
    
I completely agree that this is more likely to be what the writer intended if you take what was written at face value. However, there is the slight chance that the writer just happened to be careless or did not proofread his/her own email; errors occur in language use and the writer may not be proficient in English. I am just offering an alternative explanation. Thank you for your comment, I probably didn't make this clear beforehand. –  demi Apr 10 '11 at 2:35
    
Just to provide more information, the writer's intention was actually for me to submit the items that he found missing from my application file. From the comments on this page and assuming no change in sentence structure, can i conclude that the best word to use in the writer's sentence to be "found" instead of "find"? –  Lynicate Apr 10 '11 at 6:53
    
@Lynicate: Actually on second thought even if he wants you to submit the items on the list, the intended meaning of 'find' here is still ambiguous due to the contradiction of tense and subject. In other words, if he meant 'find' in the sense that he 'discovered' that your file was missing some items, the tense is obviously wrong. On the other hand if he meant it in the sense of 'please find that' as I explained, the subject of 'find' (which should be you) is not explicitly stated in the sentence, causing confusion as the subject you would normally infer for 'find' is the sender's 'I'. –  demi Apr 10 '11 at 7:24
    
Yes, i would presume that the subject for 'find' is the sender's 'I', thus, making the tense wrong. Would it be less ambiguous if the words in place were "and I found that the items...."? –  Lynicate Apr 10 '11 at 10:56

There is nothing wrong with,"I have examined your credentials and find them wanting." The examination preceded the finding. "Have found" is equally acceptable.

share|improve this answer

"Find" is in fact the better choice here. It is being used in the sense of "observe" (which is where we get the word "findings" from), and while the evaluation happened in the past, the observations are being made right now.

The writer could have used a past tense, but there's a mild impoliteness involved. He evaluated and observed, it would imply, but is only getting around to telling you now. It's a very minor point and wouldn't matter to most people, but in formal or official language it is the sort of issue that gets overstressed to avoid any appearance of impoliteness.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Nov 16 at 23:56

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.