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What is the difference between the following two:

(A) The time is come for me to reveal what has lain hidden in my heart for so long.
(B) The time has come for me to reveal what has lain hidden in my heart for so long.

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    To say something is come or gone (e.g. 'the time is come') is old fashioned. Using 'has' is normal in modern English. Sep 30, 2023 at 13:43
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    Thank you, Mr. Harvey. Our paths have crossed again! Your contribution is greatly appreciated. I feel my English would improve in leaps and bounds if I had access to someone as competent as you on a much more regular basis. Sep 30, 2023 at 14:07
  • I think "is come" is an archaic expression that means the same thing that "has come" means today. The phrase "is gone" used to mean what "has gone" means today, but now the meaning of "is gone" is often "is absent." Oct 1, 2023 at 4:16
  • @MichaelHarvey Always old-fashioned for come, yes, but only old-fashioned for gone when it’s the participle form of go, rather than a plain adjective meaning ‘no longer here’; and there’s a lot of overlap where both can work. “Is he gone?” and “Has he gone?” are both standard, but while “Has he gone to work?” is equally standard, “Is he gone to work?” is old-fashioned or dialectal. Oct 1, 2023 at 10:02
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    @NoName I don’t think it’s necessarily passive-like (since there is no notion of an external agent), but the difference definitely does align somewhat with agency, though I think more significantly with stativeness. Oct 1, 2023 at 20:32

1 Answer 1

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The time has come...

is standard English, and is the version that's used today.


On the other hand,

The time is come...

sounds weird today and uses the archaic 'to be come' construction.

Here is Quackenbos in An English Grammar (1887):

In old writers we sometimes find the perfect of certain intransitive verbs formed with am instead of have, and the pluperfect with was instead of had. Thus: "Winter is [has] come"; "they are [have] arrived"; "when they were [had] gone"; "happiness was [had] flown."
These forms are now rarely used, and should be avoided. Do not take them for passive tenses, which they resemble, but parse thus: Is come is an intransitive verb, used for has come; in the indicative mood, perfect tense, &c

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    Of course not all that relevant to this question but: the fact that it's archaic doesn't mean that it's entirely unused today. At least in my sociocultural environment, I could easily imagine announcing that they are leaving a party with "the time is come for me to depart, farewall all!" I would obviously immediately recognize that as an attempt to be funny (or at least a bit eccentric) by intentionally using an old-fashioned construction though, and (hopefully) not how they'd typically speak. Sep 30, 2023 at 23:11
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    Is this perhaps the same thing as in German with haben/sein in perfect. Sein being used with motion and transformation verbs and haben with most others?
    – Simppa
    Oct 1, 2023 at 7:28
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    @Simppa Sort of, yes. English usage used to be closer to the German (and French) usage, but has since switched to using have instead of be almost everywhere. The same thing happened in Spanish, incidentally. Oct 1, 2023 at 9:56

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