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Does the sentence

This restaurant has become popular in recent years.

imply an ongoing, continuous process (becoming popular) that has been happening during the recent years? Or does it mean that it just happened some time ago, maybe quickly, but not earlier than a few years ago?

  • This is a good question, but seems more philosophical than linguistic to me. Is popularity something that exists on a spectrum and can happen gradually, or is popularity just a binary (popular vs. not popular)? I think both interpretations make sense. – Mixolydian Feb 28 at 21:04
  • As for me it's more a question about "has become" + "in recent years". I suppose it's the "in recent years" what makes that sentence imply a ongoing process as a possible meaning. – embedc Mar 1 at 10:51
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The present perfect tense shows a action that has taken place over some time and may still be ongoing. It may be used to show continual change, e.g. in recent years.

This is as opposed to the simple past, e.g. This restaurant became popular overnight.

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    I don't think I agree with your answer, for example the sentence "We've eaten at that restaurant in recent years" doesn't describe "a change that has taken place over some time" or "a continual change". – embedc Mar 1 at 10:44
  • @embedc, agreed, action is better than change. However, see the citation linked above, "to show that an action has taken place once or many times before now." – DrMoishe Pippik Mar 3 at 1:28

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