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In one of my posts (Is a simple "context" a good start to ask questions?) I said

I've seen lots of people begin their questions with ...

where I used present perfect tense. Actually, I am not sure whether I used the right tense. Other options would present simple, past simple

I see lots of people begin their questions with ...

I saw lots of people begin their questions with ...

I was trying to emphasize the fact that there are indeed lots of people begin their questions in that way.

In this context, which tense should I use?

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  • It can depend on context. For example, this is fine: "I was curious, so I looked at many other questions like this one. I saw lots of people begin their questions with ... ." Here, "I saw" tells about something that happened in the past, when you were looking at questions.
    – David K
    Mar 15, 2020 at 17:58
  • @DavidK That context is helpful. Thank you. In which, saw does not imply those past are not there anymore, and I don't know, because I saw them in the past, I don't know their state in the present, right?
    – WXJ96163
    Mar 15, 2020 at 21:47
  • It's simple past because it is part of a story about something you did in the past. It doesn't say anything about the present, not even that there is uncertainty. For example, if I say, "Last year the town built a monument designed to last a thousand years," it is past tense not because the monument might not be there any more; it is past tense because building the monument is something that happened at some time in the past.
    – David K
    Mar 15, 2020 at 22:21

1 Answer 1

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I have seen (this happen) means that you have witnessed this in the past.

I see (this happen) means that you are still frequently seeing it.

In this context, you can use either according to your personal choice. I wouldn't use I saw unless it was no longer happening.

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  • And what about "I saw"?
    – Num Lock
    Mar 15, 2020 at 17:39
  • "have seen" also often suggests that it was infrequent.
    – Barmar
    Mar 15, 2020 at 18:24
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    I said I wouldn't use I saw unless it was no longer happening. "I saw this happen once," or "I saw this in the 1990s but I haven't seen it since." Mar 16, 2020 at 8:34

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