An English-speaking friend of mine says the following sentences are incorrect, explaining that “has been in somewhere” is not related to living somewhere. But it's been my understanding they are acceptable. I think the experiential perfect is applied here.

Mary has been in Rome before. Mary has been in Rome several times.

Instead, he adds, it would be okay to say "Mary has lived in Rome before" or "Mary has lived in Rome several times."

Also, his interpretation of the following is different from mine although I must admit there is not much context to it.

Mary has been in Rome.

My interpretation is that Mary was in Rome at some time in the past, probably implying nobody knows when she was there, how long she was there, or whether she is still there. On the contrary, his understanding is that Mary is in Rome still and has been there for some time.

Of course, we don't have any disagreement about "has been to somewhere" construction.

Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

  • This has been explained in page ell.stackexchange.com/questions/115858/…
    – Arun
    Mar 5, 2018 at 12:27
  • To me, 'Mary has been in Rome before' implies that she has visited the city before, not that she once lived there. Mar 5, 2018 at 17:03
  • Broadly yes, your English-speaking friend is correct. In the unlikely event any native speaker used “has been in (somewhere)” that would almost never be intended to mean "has lived there" even though that meaning would automatically be included. “has been in…” is a very special case, not at all comparable to "has been to…" or "has lived in…" or "has visited…" It is indeed not related to "living" somewhere and in my opinion would only ever be used in a criminal investigation… which might qualify as an example of the "accusative" case but I doubt that. Mar 14, 2018 at 0:18

1 Answer 1


I think the general issue is consider the sentence in the reverse:

Rome has been in Mary before. Rome has been in Mary several times.

The sentence structure is exactly the same, but the meaning is completely different, so using to is far less likely to be misunderstood.

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