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Stone _____, and so the tools of long ago have remained when even the bones of the men who made them _____ without trace.

a) didn't decay/disappeared

b) wouldn’t decay/disappear

c) doesn’t decay/have disappeared

d) won’t decay/had disappeared

e) didn’t decay/have disappeared

The solution is c) but I don't understand why it is "have disappeared". It happened a long time ago so "disappeared" should be the solution. Humans stopped making stone tools a long time ago, so they are all dead and their bones also disappeared a long time ago. It does not relate to the present; it belongs to the past

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  • If you talk about events in the past without saying when but just want to signal or show that they occurred in the past, you can use the present perfect. Sorry but none of your English is accurate.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 18:16
  • what do you mean by none of your English is accurate , what is not accurate?
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 20:45
  • I will repeat what I have already said. [note the present perfect to signal the past: signal the past]. VERSUS I will repeat what I said yesterday. [specific] The present perfect signals the past without saying when something happened specifically. [Humans stopped making stone tools a long time ago.]
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 14:44

2 Answers 2

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The present perfect normally has some connection to the present! In this case the connection is "they disappeared (long ago) and so they aren't here now.

You use present perfect to talk about current states resulting from past events.

Using past tense would be incorrect, because that would relate speak about the past time when the bones disappeared, and state that the stones don't decay at that time (but the stone may have decayed since then). That is incorrect, and not the intended meaning.

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  • I thought that using the present perfect implied that it could change as in 'it has not rained for 20 days'. In 'the tools 'example it won't change
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 17:14
  • Your answer is a bit confusing. The present perfect just tells the listener, "This is past" without being a specific point on a timeline. Whereas simple past is always a specific point on the timeline.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 18:20
  • @James K Hi! I upvoted your good answer! Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:03
  • Thanks! There is no need to tell everyone about every upvote. Please use comments to suggest improvements and ask for clarification. @MariosAthanasiou
    – James K
    Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:09
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This is about meaning, not grammar per se.

Stone doesn't decay [simple present for a true statement in general], and so the tools of long ago have remained when even the bones of the men who made them have disappeared [just in the past, not a specific point on the timeline] without trace.

COMPARE: when even the bones of the men who made them disappeared without trace [an example of meaning: thousands of years ago: a specific point on the timeline].

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  • But stone does decay. That isn't a true statement so it cannot be the correct meaning. In reframing this question you've taken it in an incorrect direction.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 9:35
  • @Astralbee The only one that works, does not decay. If that is wrong, it is not grammatically wrong. It is wrong re the subject matter. And we are not responsible for that. Also, why not put your comment under the question.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 13:47
  • @Lambie Hi! Don't be sad! I upvoted your good answer! Your good answer does not deserve a downvote! Commented Oct 25, 2023 at 9:07

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