My problem is whether present prefect tense means that the result of a past action still exists or it means that the action itself is still happening or still important. When I say "I've lost my book" it means the results of the "losing action" still important currently. But it does not mean I am losing my book every moment, and this will be good tragic science fiction movie related to space black hole or something.

Context: The development is the media spreading more news about crime.

This development makes people feel unsafe for psychological reasons, and they may falsely think that crime rates were\ have increased.

Using "were" means that:

  • crime rates was increased is the past.

  • the rates went for example from 5 to 8; however, it is not increasing anymore.

Using "have" means that:

  • crime rates were increased in the past.

  • the rates went for example from 5 to 8; however, it is not increasing anymore because present perfect tense applies to the result of an action not the action itself.

If this was right, and I don't know whether I got it right or not, then why native English speakers prefer to use "have" in this case, it is completely useless!

When Australia has applied the economic policies which I mentioned earlier, according to the government statistics, most employees found a new job in supermarkets after their former employer companies had been closed.

The content is kind of silly, but please ignore this for now :) This one is also problematic because an English teacher decided that "has" is wrong. When I wrote "has" I wanted to emphasis that "economic policies" are still applied today, and in my opinion, using past tense is wrong because it this context it is not clear whether "economic policies" are still there or rolled back.

So where is my misunderstanding regarding present perfect tense?

  • x is increased by y. It does not work with crime rates, very well.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 17:07

2 Answers 2


Present perfect form marks events in the past that have an important effect in the present.

It applies both to actions that are complete or incomplete.

The choice of whether use perfect form is not one of grammar but meaning. Two speakers may make different choices depending on whether each believes some effect is important or not important.

In the case of "crime rates were increased" versus "crime rates have increased", the difference is not whether the rates continue to increase, but of whether the increase has an important effect on the present. The topic of discussion is the present feeling of fear, which is an important effect from the increase. The latter choice, the present perfect, is better, because it emphasizes the relationship between the increase and the fear.


If crime rates were increased, it means they were increased by someone or something. That is passive voice, which is not what you mean, I think. So just use "increased" if it, the action, happened in the past. The present perfect is used when the present result of a past action is emphasized, it is the present result that is important, not the past action itself. If you want to express something started in the past and is still going on, use present perfect continuous: have been increasing, here the action is ongoing.

  • I did notice that I used passive voice until you told me, but I wonder whether it is still grammatical to use passive voice here because the subject and the object is the same thing "crime rates"?
    – Costa
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:04
  • So what do you think about the second example? Do you agree with me?
    – Costa
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:15
  • crime rates were increased by crime rates doesn't make sense.
    – anouk
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:15
  • True, but when say "crime rates increased". It is active voice and "crime rates" the subject go from 5 to 8. When say "crime rates were increased", it means "crime rates" is the object and something increased it. I think it is the same meaning.
    – Costa
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:21
  • you have got your tenses mixed up, the rates went from 5 to 8, it happened in the past. Your second example is using different tenses as well, present and past. That is what your teacher means. If you want to express that something will happen in the future, use the future tense.
    – anouk
    Commented Jul 10, 2019 at 16:26

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