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In the sentence:

"Pinewood is wood that has come from a pine tree"

Why is the phrase "has come from" used rather than "comes from"?

Are the two phrases grammatically different? Do they have different meanings?

The sentence comes from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

Another example of this usage which I have found, and confuses me is:

"Much of the opposition to this plan has come from the media."

  • Do you mean comes from, which would be grammatical? Wood that come from a pine tree is obviously wrong. – oerkelens Nov 22 '17 at 13:15
  • Hi welcome to ELU HubQin, can you link to the dictionary if it was an online dictionary, and explain why you think 'has come from' is wrong, this will help people that try to answer your question. – Gary Nov 22 '17 at 13:16
  • @oerkelens thank you . I corrected just now. I am wondering that what the difference is between "has come from" and "** comes from**" in grammar or in meaning? are they equal to each other? – HubQin Nov 22 '17 at 13:25
  • @Gray, the sentence comes from Cambridge Advanced learner's Dictionary on "pinewood", more examples for this usage which make me very confused, such as "Much of the opposition to this plan has come from the media." – HubQin Nov 22 '17 at 13:38
  • @HubQin I've added the reference from your comment to your question, and attempted to make your question a little easier to read. If any of the changes I've made conflict with your original intent, do please re-edit the question! – Gary Nov 22 '17 at 13:48
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"Pinewood is wood that has come from a pine tree"

Has come is in the present perfect tense.

If you're unsure what tense you are looking at, you can consult a table of conjugations:

Present perfect conjugation of the verb come from reverso conjugation:

he/she/it has come

What is the significance of the present perfect tense?:

The present perfect is a grammatical combination of the present tense and the perfect aspect that is used to express a past event that has present consequences. - Wikipedia

Relating this back to your example sentence:

"Pinewood is wood that has come from a pine tree"

The meaning here is that the wood has has come from a tree, and this has some consequence now. You might for instance hear someone say this if they were making a case now, for less tree felling, and more preservation of natural resources.

e.g.

"Pinewood has come from a pine tree... Do people not realize this when they go and purchase their trendy new furniture?"

Whereas:

"Pinewood is wood that comes from a pine tree"

Is in the present simple tense, which is:

The tense that is used to refer to events, actions, and conditions that are happening all the time, or exist now. - Cambridge.

You are no longer talking about the past fact that the pinewood was created from a pine tree with present consequences, but simply talking about the fact that pinewood 'comes from' pine trees.

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DEFINITION

Your first sentence, "Pinewood is wood that has come from a pine tree" illustrates a formal but idiomatic way of defining something in English.

If I were to ask you the following question,

Where does pinewood come from?

you would likely say,

Pinewood comes from pine trees.

Simple enough, yes? If, however, I were to ask you

What is pinewood?

you would likely say

Pinewood is wood that has come from a pine tree.

What is the difference between the two answers? The second answer, above, is the idiomatic way in English of defining something.

If I were to ask you

What is botulism?

and you wanted to give me a standard dictionary definition, you might say

Botulism is a potentially fatal disease which comes from ingesting food containing botulin, the name for the botulinum bacteria found in imperfectly preserved foods (such as sausage).

If, however, I were to ask you

How does someone get botulism?

you would likely say

You get botulism from eating tainted food.

I guess you could say a dictionary definition is a more pedantic way of answering a question about what something is, whereas a less pedantic and more informal way of answering a question about the same something tends to be more direct and succinct.

One more illustration might be helpful. Question:

What is golf?

Idiomatic answer:

The modern sport of golf is a sport that has come from 15th century Scotland, and it is a club-and-ball sport played outdoors on specially designed terrain.

Question:

Where did the sport of golf come from?

Non-idiomatic answer:

Modern golf came from 15th century Scotland.

STATEMENT OF FACT

Your second sentence,

Much of the opposition to this plan has come from the media

is simply a statement of fact and not a definition. The words has come from express the present perfect tense (or present perfect simple tense). The present perfect tense requires both an auxiliary verb and a main verb.

The auxiliary verb, such as have or has, is expressed in the present tense, whereas the main verb, such as come, is expressed as a past participle. (A participle is a word formed from a verb that can function as an adjective or gerund or can be used to form the continuous tenses and the perfect tenses of verbs. There are two participle forms: the present participle and the past participle.)

Generally speaking, with a statement of fact--which could be, for example, an answer to a question, the questioner is not looking for a definition but for an explanation of what happened or why something happened. Question:

Where does Legionnaire's disease come from?

Answer:

Legionnaire's disease comes from the bacterium Legionella pneumophila and is believed to be spread by inhalation of contaminated water vapor from showers and air-conditioning plants.

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