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I read a sentence in a chapter named "The Last Lesson" which was:

And I? I have been to blame also.

I don't know what difference it makes to use "have been" instead of "am". Could anyone tell me?

  • Using Present Perfect here is a way for the speaker to "distance" himself from (past) culpable actions. It's thus halfway between I was to blame (but that's in the past, so let's forgive and forget) and I am to blame (so I'm willing to own up and accept my punishment). Effectively, a mild form of "hedge", that attempts to downplay the speaker's involvement a bit (also with the implication that although I was blameworthy in the past, I'm not now). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 10 '19 at 15:16
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"Have been" denotes past tense, and "am" is present tense. So, by using "I have been to blame," rather than "I am to blame," the speaker implies that she, or he, was at fault for some problem in the past, but not presently. In other words, the speaker is implying that she, or he, is no longer at fault. If the speaker said "I am to blame," then she, or he, implying that she, or he, is currently at fault for whatever problem she, or he, is causing.

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I am to blame. = It is my fault now.

I have been to blame. = My fault started at some unknown point in the past and is true now when I speak this sentence.

I was to blame. =something happened and I was to blame for it at a specific time: last night, last week, etc.

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