1

I've seen in the following page I should use the present perfect in a sentence with an unfinished time word. http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/present-perfect-or-past-simple.html

However in the news I often see the past simple instead, example:

A woman died today

A man was killed today.

Why is the past simple correct ? Could it be possible to say these instead?

A woman has died today

A man has been killed today.

  • 3
    This question may be better on English Language Learners – Kris Apr 11 '15 at 12:21
  • Someone has been teaching you things about perfect constructions that just are not true. – tchrist Apr 13 '15 at 0:48
  • I have no idea why this useful question was closed. If it belongs to ELL, it would be better to move it than to close it. – Alan Evangelista Aug 22 '19 at 2:50
3

What you have learned about "unfinished time period" is incomplete. Use present perfect if something happened during an unfinished time period, such as "today," and there is a possibility it might happen again during the same time period:

Baseball announcer: Smith has had two hits today. (The game is still on; he may bat again.)

Smith had two hits today. (The game is over.)

The woman in your example is not likely to die again today, so the news report is correct.

However, if it is coverage of a hostage situation, you might say:

One hostage has been killed (so far).

Here there is a chance that others may be killed before the situation is over. But if the situation has ended, the reporter would say:

One hostage was killed.

| improve this answer | |
  • Agreed; well-explained. One minor point: while we almost never seen "A man has been killed today", we do sometimes see "A woman has died today". It's less common, and strikes my (American) ear as British. Perhaps it's used to soften the news or sound less vulgar? – Dan Bron Apr 11 '15 at 11:37
  • Perhaps it's because, although that same woman cannot die again, there may still be more casualties in an ongoing situation. – Steven Littman Oct 27 '19 at 10:49

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