The committee split over government subsidies.

How can I make clear the meaning of the sentence in case I want to differentiate 'present form of split' from 'past form of split'?

  • Either use a synonym of ‘split over’ or use ‘did’ before split.
    – Void
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:56
  • Thx. I wonder who made English.
    – gomadeng
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 13:01
  • it's of no use to wonder. You should accept the history of English.
    – Void
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 13:04
  • 3
    Won't it be obvious from context? When would you use the simple present here anyway? The simple present would be most applicable when describing a recurring situation (e.g. "The committee often split over government subsidies"). If you are describing something that is under way but not yet complete, you'd say "are splitting", and if you're describing an ongoing split you'd say "The committee are split". For the past, the present perfect or past perfect might work, depending on context and meaning, or you could say "The committee were split".
    – rjpond
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 13:10
  • 'has split' would be better since the time is unspecified (and to stress the disagreement) Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 13:10

2 Answers 2


There are lots of ways to do this:

The committee is split...

The current state of the committee is that it is split.

The committee was split...

It used to be split in the past. It may nor may not still be split. Grammatically this might mean that somebody split the committee, but context would usually make that clear.

The committee has split...

The committee has taken an action that specifically divides itself.


In present simple, most people would say 'The committee splits over every decision', so the ambiguity doesn't arise. Some people understand 'committee' as plural (they say 'the committee are' or 'the committee were'). These people would probably say 'The committee split over every decision', so the ambiguity does arise. Another solution is more context: "The committee split over every decision, so the members voted them out and elected a new one" (past simple) or "The committee split(s) over every decision so everything takes much longer than it should" (present simple).

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