There is this sentence in Wikipedia's Invasion of the United States:

The country has been physically invaded a few times

I do not understand the use of present perfect. Indeed, I guess that this sentence means that the country is no longer invaded. But why we do not use the past simple?

The country was invaded a few times

Maybe to show the present results or an experience of the country?

3 Answers 3


There are several functions of present perfect that contrast with similar sentences with simple past. This is one.

Here, the present perfect means something that happened in the past and may happen again. The country still exists, so the list of invasions isn't necessarily finished.

Using the simple past here would imply that the county won't be invaded again.

  • This is the correct answer. I will add that we also use the simple past for a country that no longer exists, such as Rome. Commented Jan 13, 2023 at 9:44
  • @JeffreyCarney It already says that: "The country still exists, so..."
    – gotube
    Commented Jan 14, 2023 at 2:08

I believe you are right. None of the invasions was successful (resulting in occupation) and 'attacked' might be a more appropriate term. Lexico has


1 (of an armed force) enter (a country or region) so as to subjugate or occupy it.

Although the article discusses the concept of the invasion of America, the word 'invasion' is used rather loosely:

The American Civil War may be seen as an invasion of home territory to some extent since both the Confederate and the Union Armies made forays into the other's home territory.

Japan did not invade America in the usually accepted sense – it made an unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor. There was no intention to occupy Hawaii.

  • The War of 1812 would certainly count as an invasion, no?
    – stangdon
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 18:56
  • @stangdon hmm... the Wikipedia article War of 1812 says "It began when the US declared war on 18 June 1812." Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 19:01
  • Yes, but in the course of the war, British troops entered American soil, and not vice versa. I suppose it all comes down to how you want to define "invade".
    – stangdon
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 19:57
  • @stangdon you probably know American history rather better than I do, but the OP's linked article does seem to have an agenda. Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 20:07
  • There is nothing wrong with the sentence. The PP just means they didn't give specific dates and it means up to now.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 18, 2022 at 23:02

The use of the present perfect may be explained by the fact the writers chose not to give specific dates AND it relates to time of speaking/writing.

Had there been a specific date, it would be wrong.

I have explained this several times in this forum. [up to now, in the present] The last time I explained it was [date]. For example.

  • Ok, I understand, so it's a choice, and past simple could have been used if he wanted.
    – Meedfried
    Commented Jul 19, 2022 at 8:25

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