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What is the difference among these sentences?

We noticed you haven't been using your job alert lately...

We noticed you aren't using your job alert lately...

We noticed you weren't using your job alert lately...

We noticed you hadn't been using your job alert lately...

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If it weren't for the word lately, the choice would simply depend on what exactly we've noticed. For simplicity we'll ignore the negation and suppose we noticed one of...

1: you have been doing it
you were doing it before, and you're still doing it now
2: you are doing it
you're doing it now, but maybe you weren't before
3: you were doing it
you were doing it before, but maybe you're not doing it now
4: you had been doing it
you were doing it before, but [probably] you're not still doing it now

But lately implies from some [relatively recent] time in the past up to and including the present, which means that only #1 works really well. The others are at least "credible" (though #4 seems rather strange to me - why introduce such a complex verb form when there's nothing that definitely needs to be identified as having happened before something else?).

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  1. The person spoken to has turned off job alert at some point in the past and it remains off (at least the speakers believe that it remains off).

  2. I'm not certain if this is grammatical but it sounds awkward because of the word "lately". Lately implies that the state is continuing up to a point (or continued up to a point) and the simple present tense does not carry this nuance. "We noticed that you aren't using your job alert." - Implies that you are currently not using job alert. It makes no assumption about the past.

  3. This is not grammatical for similar reasons. The word "lately" implies that this action continued for a period and the plain past in English implies that the action is completed. "We noticed that you weren't using your job alert." - Implies that there was a specific point in the past where job alert was turned off. It makes no assumption about the present.

  4. Implies that the person spoken to had job alert off for a period of time and then turned it back on at some point.

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    I'm not sure there's any justification for saying #2 and #3 are "ungrammatical" - they're just not particularly likely combinations given the meaning that's probably intended. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 6 '16 at 17:33

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