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I am writing a report that contain several sections. At the beginning of a new section, I would like to begin with a sentence that refers to some information that was presented in the previous section. Should I use "As we saw in the previous section" or "As we have seen in the previous section"?

On Google I see that:

  • "as we saw in the previous section" returns 1,130,000 results
  • "as we have seen in the previous section" returns 4,280,000 results

so it's not clear which one to use based on empirical data. Is there any rule to decide between those two options?

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As the adjective "previous" means existing or happening before the present time, it is a case of the past simple tense. The correct phrase is "As we saw in the previous section instead of as we have seen in the previous section".

| improve this answer | |
  • That's actually what I was thinking: I was surprised when I saw that "as we have seen in the previous section" has 4 times more results than "as we saw in the previous section". If we want to use the present perfect, we should instead write something like "As we have seen so far". – Franck Dernoncourt Aug 24 '14 at 17:29

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