The last tip of the month focused on verb tenses to master for academic writing in English. Among these tenses, one stylistic choice you may have to make is between the simple past and the present perfect. This can be tricky because rules for the use of the present perfect differ slightly in British and U.S. English. In addition, the present perfect is rarely required (Caplan, 2012), and individual preferences may dictate which tense is used. In other words, one U.S. English writer may choose the simple past in a place where another U.S. English writer may choose the present perfect. However, Caplan (2012) emphasized that the “correct use of the present perfect is a sign of sophisticated and effective writing” (p. 71).
Caplan (2012) specified five situations in which a writer may choose the present perfect tense (pp. 71-72):
Revision Tip: In addition to this blog post, look back at the rules and examples on the Simple Past Versus the Present Perfect page. Then, reread the latest draft of your doctoral capstone manuscript and look for places where the present perfect could be used for sophisticated and effective academic writing. Revise as needed. Happy Writing!
Caplan, N. A. (2012). Grammar choices for graduate and professional writers. University of Michigan Press.