I know the basics about past tense vs present perfect tense, but I'm wondering in some situations whether the "connection to the present" (which seems to be a necessity for the present perfect tense) does indeed exist or not, e.g., in the following example from computer programming (where you can "call a function", i.e., execute it):

  1. Only use function A if the function B was called before.
  2. Only use function A if the function B has been called before.

What's the correct way? Is it different in American English vs. British English?

  • 1
    As a side note, there should be no article in front of function B. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 21:06
  • Jason, I disagree with you. “... if the function B ...” suggests that function B has been previously defined and is already familiar to the reader.
    – Anton
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 7:46
  • As Jason says, you don't want the. I am a BrE speaker and have a strong preference for (2). I'm not sure I would include before though. I might put has previously been called, but it depends on the details. I believe that (1) would be at least as likely in AmE but that (2) is still correct.
    – user339660
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 8:02

1 Answer 1


I feel both be correct. Any grammatical subtleties of the difference have no effect whatsoever on the meaning or the practical outcome.

  • OK, sounds good. So what's more common? Are there usage differences due to American/British English? Norther/Southern style?
    – D.R.
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 7:59

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