What is the meaning of "have left" in this passage :

"A baby robot designed to 'invoke an emotional connection' has been unveiled in Japan, where plummeting birth rates have left many couples without children."

Is it used to describe causal relationship?

Thank you.

  • The clause uses the present perfect tense of the verb leave in the sense of To allow or cause to remain in the same place or condition. Because of plummeting birth rates, many couples are without children. (We shall disregard the inversion of logic in the sentence.) Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 3:20
  • Maybe the robots will force them to have children?
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 3:31
  • 1
    have left = plummeting birth rates mean many couples do not have children. Another example: Very dry weather has left us without water in our wells. Very dry weather means we have no water in our wells.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 23:56
  • You don't have water owing to the dry weather. The causal relationship still stands.
    – Robert
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 13:13

2 Answers 2


"Have left" is used here to indicate that as a result of or due to the plummeting birth rates, there are many Japanese couples without children. While this reasoning does seem a bit circular (obviously couples choosing not to have children is what causes low birth rates, not vice-versa), based on the context, it appears that the article is trying to describe the overarching trend of not having children -- represented by the plummeting birth rates -- as resulting in many couples lacking children and needing to fill that void with a baby robot. Of course, more context would be necessary to say this for sure, but that's what I get from the sentence provided.


You are correct. It implies that the low birth rate has caused many couples to have no children. This is, of course, nonsense. It is the really other way around. It is couples deciding not to have children that has created a low birth-rate statistic.

  • I’m not sure I agree this is “nonsense." I haven’t read the whole article, but I get the impression that, in this case, a lack of emotional connection leads to less intimacy, which in turn leads to a low birth rate – and that low birth rate means some couples end up childless.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 23:51
  • 5
    It merely says that plummeting birth rates make it so many do not have children. It most certainly does not mean that a low birth rate is the cause of childless couples.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 3, 2016 at 23:54
  • 1
    When read literally, it is nonsense, as the person above notes. In fact, when you read the sentence quickly that is the impression that comes across. However, I suspect this is a type of journalistic English where the word can take on the meaning 'has corresponded with' etc.
    – Robert
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 13:11
  • You got the naughty flags, Mick, because you editorialized, even though your analysis is spot-on. Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 19:38
  • The man can't help it. :D
    – Mick
    Commented Jul 28, 2018 at 8:18

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