Can I use always, which is usually used with Present Simple (e.g. "I always eat hotdogs with mustard."), with Present Perfect?

Almost always the people that come to this country have used a gun.

  • I have always eaten hotdogs with mustard. This empresses my experiences until now.
    – JayHook
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 17:28
  • @JayHook Do you mean expresses?
    – user230
    Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 18:18
  • 1
    Well ... my ancestors all used a ship to come to this country. I think a gun would have been even more uncomfortable. [More seriously, you should say "have used guns" unless you're talking about what they used to come to this country.] Commented Jul 7, 2013 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


No, always does not work in this sentence.

However, that's not because of the tense. It's simply not quite clear what you're trying to say. Judging by the placing of the word, I'm guessing you mean it's almost always the case that these immigrants have used guns. In that case all is the word you're looking for.

Almost all the people that come to this country have used a gun.

Also, as a side note that some of the comments were picking up on, it does sound a little like you mean they used a gun to get to this country. Context tells you that's a silly interpretation, but adding something on the end would help clear that up further. If you mean they used a gun before they came here: "...before." If they used a gun afterwards: "...since." Or if you're counting both, or aren't sure, something like: "...at some point" would work too. Anything so it no longer sounds like their trip to this country is the topic of your sentence.

But you can use the word "always" in reference to an action that's in the present perfect tense. Off the top of my head, here are some examples:

  • I enter every year, but so far have always come in last place.
  • I have always tried to be careful of your feelings.
  • I have always had a dog, even when I lived in an apartment that didn't allow pets.

As you can see, the "always" is usually stuck in between the "have" and the simple past form of the verb [have always verbed]. When it appears elsewhere in a sentence, you can be confident it's not directly referring to that past present verb. To use a set up that's closer to your original example...

It is always the case that immigrants to this country have come by boat.

Now this is where the tense starts to be an issue. Using the word "always turns this into a rule, which I'm saying is currently true [It is always the case...]. Therefore, present perfect no longer makes sense. The action can't be concluded, it's part of a rule. So, if the word "always" appears elsewhere in a sentence, you almost always want to use the regular present tense instead. Without it, present perfect is fine (instead of being a rule, it's now commenting on the pattern up until now).

  • It is always the case that immigrants to this country come by boat.
  • All immigrants have come to this country by boat.

The present perfect form of a verb and the word "always" can also appear in the same sentence when in different clauses, and the verb being addressed by "always" will not be the present perfect one.

  • I have driven across country many times, and always run out of gas at the worst time.
  • I always buy the cheapest thing I can find, but have made an exception for dog food.
  • I have tried to repair it, but you always break things too badly for me to fix.

[Italicized parts are what "always" is referring to.]

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