Does it sound natural to use present simple in some situations where present perfect has been used?

A: "There has been a rumour that the president is ill" - Can i say: 'There is a rumor that the president is ill"

B: "There has been a mistake" (if the mistake has just happened) Can i say: "There is a mistake"

C: "He has been taken to hospital" - Can i say: "He is taken to hospital" (if he is still in hospital)

D: "I have been on a holiday for two weeks" Can i say " I am on a holiday"

Are present perfect an present simple interchangeable,if the starting point (of current state in present perfect) is not mentioned(has not been mentioned)?

1 Answer 1


They are not exactly interchangeable, though some of your example pairs are more similar than others. Though as a native speaker I often hear and see present simple and present perfect used interchangeably in different situations, but I think that that is often sloppy. Their meanings frequently overlap, but they convey different information.

The key difference is that present perfect clearly describes something that happened in the past but continues to be relevant today, while present simple describes something that is true right now, with no reference to the past at all. These produce somewhat different meanings:

A1: There has been a rumor that the president is ill

A2: There is a rumor that the president is ill

A1 means that the rumors existed in the past, and implies (but does not require) that those rumors are still around (if the rumors are definitely no longer around, were would be preferred). A2 means that, right now, that rumor exists and does not reference the past at all. They express different things, even if they both have the same implication for the status of rumors about the president's health in the present.

B1: There has been a mistake

B2: There is a mistake

These are harder for me to parse because "mistake" can be used in a couple of different ways. I might use "there is a mistake" to describe a misspelled word in something I've written-- I'm describing the misspelled word as a mistake, which currently exists. But I could also describe the action that caused the misspelling as a mistake-- "there was a mistake" might use "mistake" to describe an error in my typing or in how I thought the word was spelled.

My immediate reading of B1 and B2 is that B1 is probably describing an action (likely completed in the past) that caused some consequence which is still relevant, while B2 is probably describing a thing that is currently in error rather than the action that produced that thing (the misspelled word is itself a mistake, which is different from me saying that I made a mistake and now the word is misspelled on the page in front of us). These would not be interchangeable, though I'm sure that there are examples of similar sentences that would be more able to substitute for one another.

C1: He has been taken to hospital

C2: He is taken to hospital

C2 is not correct. If he is currently in hospital, then the "taking" has been completed and so should be conjugated in the preterite tense: "He was taken to hospital." C1 strongly suggests that he is currently in hospital because the present perfect indicates that his having been taken there is currently relevant, which it would not be if he had already left. "He was taken" does not have this suggestion, because it makes no claim to being currently relevant information.

D1: I have been on holiday for two weeks

D2: I am on holiday

These both mean that you are currently on holiday, and if that's what you want to express then both sentences will work. But if the fact that you have been on holiday matters ("I didn't see that email, I've been on holiday for two weeks") then D2 would not be sufficient.

  • Just addressing your example D1, I would point out that it's perfectly possible to say this when returning to work (when you're obviously not still on holiday). Come to that, it's perfectly possible to say I have been on holiday for two weeks, but only before I became self-employed ten years ago. Now I'm lucky if I can manage even a whole weekend off. Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 17:19
  • Thank you for the answer. I think i clearly understand the meaning of present perfect when it comes to something that happened in the past and have present results, I understand it because we have similar structure in my own language. The problem comes when you use it in situations when the event has just happened or has happened in the current period of time, like in " there have been rumors recently(or this year)".not the situation when there have been rumors in the past and he has bad reputation now My explanation is that the current state(there is rumors) has started in the past. Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 17:23
  • @FumbleFingers Excellent point, those usages are probably at least as common as the one that I used. In those cases the present perfect and present simple would definitely not be interchangeable.
    – Upper_Case
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 17:29
  • @Viktor That's fair approach. I would say that the difference is in what you want to emphasize, and the different tenses are one way you can apply that emphasis. For example, if you say "There have been rumors this year" you are emphasizing that the rumors existed in the past and are making a much weaker statement about whether or not those rumors continue to exist now. Saying "There are rumors" puts all of the emphasis on the present, and whether or not the rumors existed in the past is irrelevant to the speaker. Neither is wrong, but they are not equivalent.
    – Upper_Case
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 17:36
  • @Viktor Consider: if the first time I ever hear a rumor is 30 seconds before the present, it's true that the rumor existed in the past (30 seconds of it, at any rate). But that information about the past is probably not very important for me to express, both because it covers such a brief and recent span of time and also because it's probably more important that the rumor exists in the present than whether or not it existed in the past. In an example like this a native speaker would hear the present perfect tense and assume that the rumors have been around for a meaningful amount of time,
    – Upper_Case
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 17:40

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