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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > Which tense to use?    

Which tense to use?

United States

Which tense to use?
Hello everybody :)

I hope you are all doing great and you take advantage of the weekend :). One again, I need your knowledge and advice.
I would like to ask you a question, which is a bit complicated to explain, so I hope a do a good job.
I īm helping somebody by reviewing his paper for university. In this paper he is explaining how he came to invent something (like a computer part). So he is describing how he got the ideas and how he tried out different things which finally led to his invention to work. 

Now, to describe this process he used " we have done" this or that. But I īm not so sure about this. For my ears it sounds better to use the simple past, because they did something, it is finished and now there is the invention. On the other hand I know that you use "have done" when consequences of a behaviour can still be seen now.
(example: we have proposed an alghorism in order to study ...)

Which tense is the right one to use? 

Thanks a million in advance :)

14 Dec 2013      


In most research papers, we usually use different tenses. Your colleague can use past simple for the outcome of the results he found. But for me the most appropriate tense use is present perfect because the findings he obtained are not absolute and they can be disclaimed or falsifiable. Scientific research always improves and new results emerge waiting for others to confirm them.

14 Dec 2013     


I agree with minimal70, first of all many tenses can be used. If somebody is releasing a paper in English it should prove that he/she is fluent in this language as well - meaning uses various tenses and appropriate register. 

In your case - when we are talking about some research and these are the results and outcomes that interest us, not the time in the past when it was carried out - you should use Present Perfect. But it really depends on the context, sometimes even Past Perfect could be used.

14 Dec 2013     

United States

Thanks a lot for your help, you two :) I really appreciate it.
Have a nice weekend!

14 Dec 2013     

United States

I think it would be best to give us the actual sentences, so we can be sure of which tense is needed.


14 Dec 2013