I have a question about present perfect tense. It would be great if you could help me figure that out. Today I was listening to "Everything has changed" and I noticed that when I talk about something that is already started and affected to now or (a period around now), we always use present perfect, but what I do not understand is this part. I will write these sentences to compare.


I have changed my car.

I changed my car and now I am using a new car. the old car does not belong to me anymore.

S +have/has+v.3

Everything has changed

In this case I don't get it clearly. Actually I've heard this so many times, and I understand it. For example, when I talked to my friend about the computer game. The path was updated and there was everything new. And my friend said "Everything has changed".

I'm confused when I compare it to another sentence like

I have changed my mind.
I have changed my phone number.
I have changed my wallet.

but for "everything has changed" I think it could not be changed itself.

Why don't we say "Everything has been changed" instead because it does not have an object?

closed as unclear what you're asking by TimLymington, Drew, anongoodnurse, ermanen, tchrist Apr 10 '15 at 11:19

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    I think you're asking about a verb, change in this instance, which can be transitive as well as intransitive. It doesn't seem that you're asking about the present perfect tense per se. – Andrew Leach Apr 3 '15 at 10:24
  • sorry i thought it was present perfect since i was trying to compare the verb in present perfect. Sorry for make this hard. – jit Apr 3 '15 at 10:46

To understand the answer to your question you need to know that change is an ergative verb. Wikipedia defines ergative verbs as follows:

In linguistics, an ergative verb is a verb that can be either transitive or intransitive, and whose subject when intransitive corresponds to its direct object when transitive.

So, in the sentence I have changed my phone number, change is a transitive verb with I as the subject and phone number is the object.

But change can also be used intransitively, as in My phone number has changed. We can see how, in Wikipedia's definition, the "subject when intransitive corresponds to its direct object when transitive".

Another common ergative verb is break:

I broke my watch (object).

My watch (subject) broke.

Wikipedia lists the following as common ergative verbs:

Ergative verbs can be divided into several categories:

  • Verbs suggesting a change of state — break, burst, form, heal, melt, tear, transform

  • Verbs of cooking — bake, boil, cook, fry

  • Verbs of movement — move, shake, sweep, turn, walk

  • Verbs involving vehicles — drive, fly, reverse, run, sail

You can also say Everything has been changed, in which case you are using the transitive change in the passive. The difference between Everything has changed and Everything has been changed is that the latter implies that there is an agent behind the change, in a way that the former does not necessarily.

  • I've never heard about this before. I'll have a look carefully and thank you so much for your helping. :) Now I got a new topic to study. have a good day. – jit Apr 3 '15 at 10:48
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    @jit: You could at least give old Shoe an up vote for this answer before moving on. (+1) – Robusto Apr 3 '15 at 13:08
  • @Robusto. Thanks, old Shoe is good, and right! But a couple of times I've got an embarrassingly high number of upvotes for a very short SWR answer, so things even out in the end! – Shoe Apr 3 '15 at 13:17
  • @Shoe: It's what I call the SE Conundrum, a variation of Parkinson's Law of Triviality, which "is C. Northcote Parkinson's 1957 argument that organizations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues." Here the bikeshedding involves drastic up-voting for trivial answers while worthy ones go unnoticed. – Robusto Apr 3 '15 at 13:32
  • Hi I was triying to vote up your answer but it stated that "vote up requires 15 reputation". Sorry I could not vote for you this time, but thank you so much for reminding me to vote up. I'm new for this website so I don't know the tradition. Thank you for letting me know :) – jit Apr 3 '15 at 14:22

This is all about these two meanings of "change"


transitive verb

1 : to make different:

a : to make different in some particular but short of short of conversion into something else : alter, modify

intransitive verb

1 : to become different in one or more respects without becoming something else

Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary


to make [something else] different

to become [/himself/herself/oneself/] different

  • Thank you :) So if it is intransitive I can say "The season has changed" "The time has changed" "My life has changed" thank you for replying me :) – jit Apr 3 '15 at 14:23

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