I have a question, a friend of mine and I discussed about what sentence is correct:

To the person who has written this:

[piece of paper attached]

[New sentence]


To the person who wrote this:

[piece of paper attached]

[New sentence]

or maybe both of them?

  • 1
    You've committed an error I have seen all too often on ELL: You have asked us which "sentence" is correct, but, unfortunately, you haven't given us any sentences to evaluate. You have provided two fragments, two clauses, or maybe two salutations, but that's it. And any time you provide no additional context, the answer is likely to be, "Both of them could be correct, depending on what you are trying to say." – J.R. Apr 18 '17 at 15:32
  • Okay I'll edit my question. – John Doe Apr 18 '17 at 15:33
  • A complete sentence please. A time adjuct(yesterday, now.. Etc) might affect the grammaticality of the sentence. – user178049 Apr 18 '17 at 15:51
  • I edited my question again to make the situation more clear. Sorry this was everything written on the paper. The paper attached was found a day earlier and the writer of the text shown above answered the next day. – John Doe Apr 18 '17 at 15:55

To this native US English speaker, either one is grammatically correct, but the second one, with wrote, is much simpler and more natural.

The writing of the letter is entirely in the past; it is a completed action. Therefore, the simple past ("wrote") is more appropriate. The present perfect ("has written") is (as the name implies!) actually a present tense which describes the fact that something happened in the past but continues (or could continue) until the present. But the writing of the letter is a discrete action that was completed entirely in the past, so it's simpler and more appropriate to say the person wrote the letter and he is the person who wrote the letter.

We often see English language learners overuse the perfect; a good general rule of thumb is something we here like to call FumbleFingers' Perfect Truism , which is "Don't use the perfect unless you really have to."

  • It looks like there's not much difference in prevalence between [the person] who wrote this is [blah blah] and ...who wrote that is... But if I switch to Present Perfect, the that version doesn't occur often enough to chart. I think this and Present Perfect go together because they're both inherently more relevant to here, now. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 18 '17 at 17:50

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