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What are the similarities and differences, for example, between "they are agreed" vs "they've agreed." Also, is there a formal grammatical term for the construct "they are agreed" ?

http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/96405-We-are-agreed claims no differences:

In agreement is simply a phrase that means having the same opinion. Agree, as you use it, is an intransitive verb meaning to be in accord or having the same opinion.

So, they are structurally different, but almost semantically the same. That is, they have the same meaning. Yes, consensus has almost the same meaning, but its used in formal contexts.

Per contra, this DOES claim a difference:

They "are" agreed is stative, they are in a state of agreement, and this doesn't necessarily mean that they spoke to each other and made the agreement, it might simply mean that they have all taken the same position independently. But when you say "they have agreed" it does imply that they have got together and agreed a position.

I'm contending against this latter argument. If they have all taken the same position independently, then haven't they agreed? Does it matter whether they acted alone or conferred?

2 more examples here.

  • There may well be no semantic difference, even though there is a syntactic one; that is frequently the case with structures that resemble one another. In fact, that's part of the reason why they resemble one another; it's analogous to Müllerian mimicry in wasps and bees. – John Lawler Jul 5 '14 at 16:43
  • Yes, there are some interesting differences between the two versions: "they are agreed", and "they have agreed". – F.E. Jul 6 '14 at 2:40
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Personally this makes me feel like a change in time perspective.

They are agreed is an immediate situation.

They have agreed could be either immediate or some time in the past.

And from lepressentiment 'in agreement' is perfect as a formal term.

Hope this helps!

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