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I am confused with this:

"Long after he has left, she finds out that it has been stolen."

"Long after he left, she finds out that it has been stolen."

"Long after he leaves, she finds out that it has been stolen."

I don't really know which one is the correct one. Please help. Thank you :)

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2 Answers 2

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'after he leaves' = context is present, but describes just a condition that hasn't yet happened. e.g. after he leaves, let's set his bed on fire.

'after he has left' = context is present tense, but describes a condition that happened in the (implied recent) past. e.g. after he has left, he realises that he has left his wallet behind (or he doesn't have his wallet - to make the present tense clearer)

'after he left' = the story context is past. The 'after' has no bearing on the tense change. e.g. After he left the building, he realised he left his wallet behind. He knew he was a dumbass, but he didn't believe he was this dumb.

The latter part is present tense - so "Long after he has left..." is the right prefix.

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  • 'after he has left' can also describe a future moment (i.e. he hasn't left yet), more usually rendered as 'once he has left ...".
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 11:18
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It looks like this is a part of a scenario script for a movie or something

In this case l'd suggest using the "he left" referring to an actor in another scene

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  • They all say the same thing and they are all fine for purposes of describing a timeline (e.g. in a script).
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 28, 2015 at 11:18

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