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In the song, you can hear how she pours her heart out with such intense emotions in her clear, powerful voice, complaining why everything in her life has gone so wrong. Please just listen to her voice and see how she wails; the wails that were not only for her but also for all those who across generations have found themselves in her situation.

Can you tell me whether the "have found" written on the fourth line (bold) of the previous sentence is the correct tense to be used? Should it just be "found" instead of "have found"? Please tell me the grammatical reason for it. Or if you feel the sentence should be written in an entirely different way?

Are any punctuation marks missing in the sentence?

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    It's correct, but I leave it to others to explain the grammar :) – Mynamite Apr 5 '14 at 22:24
  • It is perfectly correct. But you could also use just 'found'. They are nuanced slightly differently, but that would be quite complicated to go into. – WS2 Apr 5 '14 at 22:26
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Ah, present perfect versus simple past... the joys one can find in the nuances of verb tenses!


Three questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to use the simple past or the present perfect:

  1. Has the time period of the action finished?
    If the time period has completed, the simple past is in order. Otherwise if the time period is still ongoing, then use the present perfect.

    • I ate three eggs yesterday.
    • I have eaten three eggs today. (so far).

    In your sentence here, you're acutally referring back into a previous time period when people were actively in a situation, so I believe have found communicates the state of the person in question better.

  2. Is the point in time specific?
    Specific times generally use the simple past, whereas unspecified times can get the present perfect.

    • I ate the eggs last week.
    • Yes, I have eaten eggs before.

    We don't really care exactly when the person found themselves in the situation in your sentence above, but we know it happened at some time before the time period being referred to in the sentence.

  3. Has the action finished?
    Finally, already-completed actions can get the simple past, whereas ongoing actions which started at a time in the past receive the present perfect tense.

    • I was stuck in Seattle. not in Seattle anymore
    • I have been stuck since yesterday. probably still stuck

    Again, in your case, her wails are for people who are presently still in the (presumably) travailing situation which the song is about, so the perfect tense is more apt than simple past.

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