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Imagine I registered on a web store and bought a subscription in order to sell some stuff. I want to ask what happens to the items I have listed on the store when my subscription expires. I made up this sentence:

If the subscription expires, when some of my products still aren't sold, will they be automatically removed from the store?

but was told it would be better if I used Present Perfect:

If the subscription expires, when some of my products still haven't been sold yet, will they be automatically removed from the store?

I wonder if the first sentence is still correct and if it is, then what's the differences between these two sentences? I also would like to know in what cases I should prefer using Present Perfect instead of Present Simple in time clauses.

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Native English speaker here.

First let me just say: I've heard the first sentence structure used plenty, and I think it would be totally acceptable to most people. They will understand that you mean "aren't sold at the time of subscription expiry".

But if I'm being really picky about it, I would actually argue there are problems with both phrasings.

The biggest problem is that first comma. It just shouldn't be there. So we should have

If the subscription expires when some of my products still [aren't / haven't been] sold yet, will they ...

Why remove the comma? When setting up a conditional statement, the comma is used to separate the description of the condition from whatever you're saying about that condition. So if you write "If the subscription expires, when some ...", it sounds like you've finished describing the condition ("the subscription expires") and are moving on to say/ask something about that condition. If that's what the reader is expecting, then it will be confusing when they instead encounter a further description of the condition. Instead it's better to fully describe the condition in a single clause -- even though it might be tempting to break up a long clause with commas (which is common to do).

Now that we've gotten rid of the comma, let's examine the conditional clause:

If the subscription expires when some of my products still [aren't/haven't been] sold

I think both versions have the same problem: they're trying to reference a point in time that can't be precisely defined. They could both be rephrased as "If the subscription expires at the point in time when my products [aren't/haven't been] sold", which doesn't make sense! It's impossible to identify a singular point in time when this suddenly becomes true, and therefore it doesn't make sense to talk about such a point in time.

A better phrasing would be:

If some of my products still haven't been sold when my subscription expires, ...

And now, finally, we can talk about "aren't sold" vs. "haven't been sold". And actually, I think there is flexibility here; either could work. (But this is only true because of a special feature of the word "sold", which I will describe a bit later.)

Let's look at each version.

If some of my products still haven't been sold when my subscription expires, ...

This is the form that could work for any verb, not just "to sell". You could say "If some of my dishes still haven't been cleaned when..." or "If some of my customers still haven't been served when...", etc.

If some of my products still aren't sold when my subscription expires, ...

This version still works, but only because "sold" can also be used like an adjective, to describe the state of being of a product. You can say "this product is sold" just like you can say "this product is green". There are other verbs that have this feature as well; for example, you can say "this job is finished" instead of "this job has been finished". Is it correct grammar to say this? Well, it's so common for so many verbs that in a sense, English grammar has been redefined to allow it (or equivalently, we could say we invented the new words "sold" and "finished" that are adjective versions of their originals, "sold" and "finished" (they are identical except that they are used as adjectives).

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