Example 1

I call fathers who graduated from law school fathers in law.

Example 2

I call fathers who have graduated from law school fathers in law.

For me, this is a statement that should apply every time he meets a father who has law school study experience. So which tense should I use? Past tense sounds like it only includes people who graduated before the moment of the speaker speaking.

  • 1
    You do know what a father-in-law is, don't you? I would never say my friend's father "is in law". It's going to be: "His/ her father has a law degree / He is a lawyer/an attorney”
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 25 at 11:25
  • 1
  • Does some test have a section of "dad jokes"?
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 25 at 12:27
  • law school study experience? How about: who went to law school or attended law school. They are both past tense. For one you can say when, for the other you can only add recently or another adverb of time. But even for a joke, you need hyphens here.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 25 at 22:40
  • This is the same as the other question. Please don't do that.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 25 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


Both are possible, but since there is a clear connection to the present (we are talking about what we call these people now) the present perfect would be most natural (in it's reduced form "fathers who've graduated")

Both past tense and present perfect talk about people who graduated at some time before the time the time the speaker is speaking, but in both cases it would be natural to infer that if someone graduated in the future, then at at time later than that you'd call them a "father-in-law".

In case this isn't completely obvious, this is a very weak joke on the meaning of "in-law" (ie members of your spouse's family)

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