Due to an objection letter, the book launch was cancelled. the main concern specified in the letter was that in his works the author has/had/… underestimated the role of the organization.

So there is an authors who has written some books already. And now his new book was going to be introduced to the public. Some think that in his books he has underestimated the role of the organization. Should it be has, had, or simple past?

  • 1
    It depends on the temporal point of reference (or "anchor", or whatever you want to call it). Have you researched present perfect vs. past perfect? There are many posts on ELU dealing with that issue. Jul 13, 2022 at 8:50
  • 2
    Why use any perfect construction? Simple past does the job. Any perfect construction puts a parsing burden on the addressee or reader; that must be justified by the information it conveys. Perfect tells you nothing that you don't get from past. Jul 13, 2022 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


I would say 'had' is correct. The rest of the sentence is in past tense ('specified'...'was') and so 'had' reads well. It also conveys the connotation that the letter alleges that the author underestimated the role of the organisation - it merely reports objectively on what the letter said. If you change it to 'has', you're potentially entering territory where you are agreeing with the letter and asserting that the author has in fact underestimated the role of the organisation.

  • What about simple past?
    – Sasan
    Jul 14, 2022 at 7:23
  • One could also use simple past -- depends on the full context. I suggest you take a look at related questions on English Language Learners. Jul 15, 2022 at 2:17

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