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"He came to sell" or "he comes to sell" or "he has come to sell" What's correct for present time(action perfected just now)? I think I have to use second, but I never saw phrase like that.

2 Answers 2

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In general it is the context that will determine whether the action is happening right in this moment, and not the conjugation of the verb alone. However, since you asked about conjugation:

These three all have slightly different meanings:

  1. He came to sell

This can either be used for a past event (a previous sales opportunity) or to say the person is already here, and with a particular intention. It does not necessarily mean he's selling now.

"I don't know about you, but I came here to sell some insurance. Let's go sell some insurance."

  1. He comes to sell

The simple present is not normally used for present events. Instead it implies something that happens on a regular basis,

He comes here every Friday to sell insurance.

  1. He has come to sell

This is similar to the first example, although the present perfect emphasizes that the person's movement has recently completed.

A: Why is he here?
B: He says he has come to sell insurance. Were you expecting him?

Another possibility is:

  1. He is here to sell.

"Come" is an action verb, so it implies so time to move from there to here. If instead you emphasize that the person is already here, it implies the action is taking place now.

A: Who is that man in our living room?
B: He is here to sell us insurance.

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  • What's normally used to present events? Dec 13, 2017 at 6:38
  • @DmitrySokolov Because verb conjugations can have different meanings, you have to view them in context to understand exactly what the writer means. For example, "He is selling insurance" could be a response to the question "What is he doing these days (for work)?" and not a description of his current activity. "He is selling insurance down at the supermarket right now" is more informative.
    – Andrew
    Dec 13, 2017 at 16:50
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It sounds like you're trying to simply conjugate the verb sell. If that's the case, we don't normally use come as a helping verb to express that in English; we use the past preterite tense instead.

E.g.

"Can I borrow Jeff's car tomorrow?" "No. He just sold it."

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  • In British English, we're much more likely to use the present perfect in that case: "He's just sold it". The simple past with "just" sounds very American to me.
    – Colin Fine
    Dec 13, 2017 at 0:12

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