Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-48339080

There have been seven weeks of protests outside the site from which "hundreds" of pupils were kept away on Monday.

Why does the sentence say “have been” not simply “were”? I think that indicates that the protesters are still protesting untill the moment of writing. Am I correct here?

1 Answer 1


There are a few different 'rules' for the use of the present perfect vs past simple.

One of them is, as you say, to convey the meaning that the action started in the past and continues or is relevant to the present, vs something which happened and finished in the past and is not relevant to the present. For example, "I lost my keys last week" doesn't tell us whether you later found them. The context of the conversation will probably tell us that. However, if you say, "I have lost my keys" then we understand that at the moment you don't have your keys.

Another thing you'll see from the examples is that when we use the past simple we either state, or it is understood from the context of the conversation, the time at which the action happened. "I went to the cinema last night" vs "I have been to that cinema a few times."

So, going back to the sentence you (have) posted, it suggests that this is current news - either the protests are still ongoing, or they recently stopped but the effects of the protest are still very relevant and therefore it has some connection to the present (it is called the present perfect, after all :))

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