What is the meaning of this sentence?

Ever since I was a child, I have been confronted with questions about my 'real' parents and my 'real' country.

and what if I say

Ever since I was a child, I am confronted with questions about my 'real' parents and my 'real' country.

  • An answer to a related question (the question there is somewhat muddy, but the answer's fine). – CowperKettle Nov 20 '14 at 11:13
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    One other good reference is Michael Swan's Practical English Usage, Unit 522. If I have time I'll write an answer based on it. – CowperKettle Nov 20 '14 at 11:20
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    @CopperKettle While I was trying hard to search it, you mentioned the entry number! :) – Maulik V Nov 20 '14 at 11:50

"I am" doesn't work because it refers to an action that happens now, where as "Ever since I was a child" refers to a whole period of time, most of which is in the past. "I have been" refers to a continuous action over a period of time that began in the past and continues to the present, so that's what you want to use here.


Here, the preferred choice is 'present perfect'.

I am confronted... will not serve the purpose here. Because...

if you want to say that you are confronted with those gruesome questions from one point of time till now, you use have been.

Cambridge Dictionary defines it:

We use 'ever' before 'since' to emphasise that something has been true from the beginning of a specific period of time:

Why not the present?

It is occasionally used and used especially in sentences that talk about the 'change'.

Swan's PEU (Entry 522) says it:

In sentences with since (referring to time), we normally use present perfect and past prefect tenses in the main clause.

However, present and past tenses are also occasionally found, especially in sentences about changes

He further gives an example:

You are looking much better since your operation.

  • But the same Dictionary gvies an example with Simple Present instead of Present Perfect: "Mrs Leech doesn’t go for walks on her own ever since she fell." It might be okay in colloquial speech. – CowperKettle Nov 20 '14 at 11:08
  • @CopperKettle I read that example as well but somehow, to my ears, have been suits in this context. Maybe, I thought it in a general way - I have been doing this thing since 1998 over I am doing this... The continuity there makes up the choice. – Maulik V Nov 20 '14 at 11:09
  • To me Past Perfect looks somewhat better too. Here's an answer to a related question. The answerer there notes that in informal speech one meets such combinations, although Past Perfect is preferable. – CowperKettle Nov 20 '14 at 11:12

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