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What is meant by "have been to" in the following sentence:

  • They have already been to Paris, haven’t they?

Does it mean that:

  • They have recently visited Paris?

or

  • They have just come back from Paris?

Thank you

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It could mean either of those and it could also mean They have visited Paris at some point in the past.

The key significance of the present perfect is present relevance, but the exact meaning of that present relevance can vary.

In your 1., the present relevance is that their being back is seen as a continuing consequence of their returning.

In your 2., the present relevance is that their trip was recent, and is seen in the frame of recent things.

In my 3., the present relevance is that they are currently in a state of having been to Paris at some point in their past.

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"They have already been to Paris"

The general idea that is conveyed in this sentence is that they have been to Paris at some point in the past.

However, we do not know at what point in the past they visited Paris. Therefore, both of your interpretations could have potentially happened, but the sentence "They have already been to Paris, haven't they?" does not commit itself to only one of these.

By including "already" you are also creating an air of disappointment. To me, this sentence is trying to show that they were all hoping to go to Paris together, but because they (the other people) have already been (at some unknown point in the past), they would prefer not to go again. Saying this, the sentence could just be neutral as well, by simply talking about the fact that some people they know have been to Paris in the past.

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