I, as an American, would opt for the simple past rather than the present perfect in the following sentence:

Today she has gone to a class, and after that she has been shopping.

Is this sentence permissible in British English? My understanding is that British English favors the present perfect when talking about a time period that is not yet over, as in this case, but I still can't help thinking that this sentence sounds terribly wrong. Thanks for any help you can give me.

  • If she had been shopping, she (had) finished the class some time earlier. Look at it from that point of view.
    – Kris
    Apr 8, 2014 at 5:05

1 Answer 1


To me this decision is about whether I'm intending to call attention to the subject (having been affected by prior actions) or the action itself. To simplify a bit, "She has gone to a class" focuses on the state of the subject now. The reader is lead to imagine the person; having been to a class, perhaps she now knows something new. However, "She went to a class" focuses instead on the verb and object. The reader naturally imagines the class and what might have happened during it.

That said, I suspect that effective use of this subtlety is rare, and the waters are muddied further by the series. Your example sounds wrong to my (American) ears too, but some in this question seem to know more about it:

When will "Present Perfect vs. Past Tense" cases be affected by culture?

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