It is twenty years since Arsene Wenger has become the manager of Arsenal.

It is twenty years since Arsene Wenger became the manager of Arsenal.

I am in doubts which sentence is correct. Given the fact that Wenger is still the manager I would use the sentence with the present perfect. But on the other hand I know that the sentence "It is two years since he has left the country" is wrong. So may be "becoming the manager" is understood as a one-time act. But I am not sure.

  • 1
    He may still be the manager, but he became the manager at one point in time twenty years ago. "Has become" would apply only if "becoming" was an ongoing process. If that was the case, "since" wouldn't be consistent; you would need something like "during which".
    – fixer1234
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 19:15
  • An aside, I assume this is chiefly British, as these examples seem odd to me (I'm American). I would expect "It has been twenty years since [...] became [...]." I see this construct in print sometimes, but I'm not sure I ever hear it.
    – bubbleking
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 16:34

3 Answers 3


The OP's second sentence is grammatically correct in standard British English

It is twenty years since Arsene Wenger became manager of Arsenal.

Some examples taken from the web

How has Russia changed under Putin?

  1. It is more than 15 years since Putin became Russia’s president. The former KGB officer was a virtual unknown when he was picked to be prime minister by Russia’s first president, Boris Yeltsin.
    23 July 2015, The Guardian

From another British paper, the Independent

  1. It is 10 years since UN peacekeepers were killed in southern Lebanon – and it could happen again now

From the BBC website

  1. It is 200 years since the birth of Charlotte Brontë, who in Jane Eyre created one of fiction’s most memorable heroines.

From an Irish newspaper, Independent.ie

  1. It is 20 years since scientists announced the world's first successfully cloned sheep, Dolly.

And in a Wikipedia page dedicated to Scientific opinion on climate change, it quotes the UK Royal Society

  1. The society says that it is three years since the last such document was published and that, after an extensive process of debate and review, the new document was printed in September 2010.

The main verb in the OP's sentence is become, the act of becoming something or someone may require hours, days, weeks, or, in extreme cases, even years. But in the original sentence, it didn't take Arsene Wenger years to became manager (coach) of the London football team, Arsenal. He was offered the position and he immediately accepted it. Thus the Simple Past tense is used, and was used in all the above examples. The original statement can be rewritten as:

Arsene Wenger became manager of Arsenal twenty years ago

If the OP wants to convey that Wenger still holds the position, then the main verb has to change, and the Present Perfect tense should be used.

  1. Arsene Wenger has been manager of Arsenal for twenty years.
  2. Arsene Wenger has been manager of Arsenal since 1997


  1. Twenty years have passed by since Wenger became manager of Arsenal.
  • Thanks, Mari-Lou. I was not aware that this use of the present is so standard in UK English. I especially appreciate the examples. Does my version below ("It has been...") sound strange in the UK or are both used interchangeably? Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 6:55

Both sound stilted (or like a translation from another language) in United States English. Standard:

It has been 20 years since Arsène Wenger became manager of Arsenal.


It's been 20 years since Arsène Wenger became manager of Arsenal.

Became is simple past because it's an event that happened at one time in the past. Has been is past perfect because the 20 years' duration links the past to the present.

In many languages you might say something like "It is 20 years...." This has a certain logic to it: Our determination of the 20 years is occurring right now. As is so often the case, different languages place emphasis on different aspects of the question. In American English the emphasis is on the 20 years as a span of time, spanning from the past to the present. Therefore use the past perfect.

I can't answer for other variants of English, but to my knowledge "It's been 20 years..." is standard throughout the Anglophone world.

  • 1
    BTW I'll be extremely pedantic here. Numbers greater than ten are typically written in numerals in standard formal English. :) Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 17:33

Without temporal clause

  • Arsene has become a manager over time
  • Arsene became incidentally a manager (by overnight via a singular event).

With temporal dependent clause (this case)

  • It's been (it has been) twenty years since Arsene Wenger became the (a or the main or nothing) manager of Arsenal

See @CynicallyNaive's answer for more details

  • For my own curiosity, is it standard where you live to say "It is 20 years..."? I'm wondering where in the English speaking world that is standard. Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 17:32
  • I am undecided on to whom you are addressing your comment, me or @bart-leby, since I did not write anything about "it is/it's/it has" nor about "20 years/twenty years". Yet, where I live, since being very imperfect, we are very open-minded and get to help each-other even if we are not expert ourselves - and we do blend languages to some extent. Miscegenation at its best. Nevertheless, you are spot-on. I did only read the italic parts and neglected the context. Always happy to learn from my mistakes. Thanks! Community learning at its best ;)
    – JesseJ
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 21:39
  • Now I can't find the answer on which I recall commenting! Perhaps it's changed so I can't recognize it, and/or perhaps I misthreaded my comment onto your answer instead of someone else's. My apologies. @Mari-Lou A's excellent answers my question for the UK, although I'm always curious about other :en-speaking countries (AU, CA, etc.) Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 6:58

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