Is it correct to use The Present Perfect when we want to say that a person who died in the past (has) taught us something?

My grandfather has taught me that...


Plato is more famous than OP's grandfather, so it's easier to find example usages...

enter image description here

Note that the Present Perfect form will tend to carry a slightly different nuance - it puts more emphasis on our present state of knowledge, rather than Plato's pedagogic activities. So although it's less common overall, you might choose it specifically for that nuance.

In case it's not obvious, all three are perfectly "correct" both syntactically and idiomatically.

  • So, if the grandfather who died in the past taught me a rule which I follow, it's better to emphasise that fact to use the Present Perfect?
    – piter00
    Oct 9 '21 at 11:34
  • 2
    I'm not sure I agree that "Plato" and "OP's grandfather" are comparable. Being an Ancient, "Plato" is on par with "science" or "mathematics" or The Prince as a general subject of knowledge. I would not at all say that "my grandfather has taught me..." is correct if the grandfather is dead, and even if he was alive it's not the first construction I would use. Instead I would use "my grandfather taught me..."
    – randomhead
    Oct 9 '21 at 11:52
  • I originally charted Jesus teaches / has taught us, but I decided that was confusing because some people would claim Jesus is "timeless" and/or "still alive". The problem with searching for grandfather has taught me is it's hard to see whether the subject is still alive at time of utterance. But that's a link to an awful lot of written instances, and even on the first page I see The first lesson that my great - great - grandfather has taught me is that people are made of hardy stuff. And he's dead! Oct 9 '21 at 12:20
  • 2
    @piter00: As a rule, non-native Anglophones tend to overuse Perfect verb forms anyway. I'm adamant that syntactically / logically there's nothing actually wrong with using it in your context, but my basic position here is You can use it, but I advise not. Oct 9 '21 at 12:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .