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When I create something in the past and do not mention the time, the first thing that comes to my mind is: Present Prefect (PP)

I'd use the PP to describe an action when the time is not important and an action incomplete , unlike Simple Past to describe when something happened and an action completed.

I found this sentence on Wikipedia and the author used the Simple Past. I'd use Present Perfect but it always confused me.

Simple Past:

Doctor Manhattan was created by writer Alan Moore with artist Dave Gibbons.

Present Perfect:

Doctor Manhattan has been created by writer Alan Moore with artist Dave Gibbons.

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    Perhaps you mean has been created* instead of has created – Random Dude May 10 '16 at 23:00
  • "When I create something in the past and do not mention the time, the first thing that comes to my mind is: Present Prefect (PP)" But why? The creation is a finished act at a distinct point in the past. There's no reason to prefer present perfect. – stangdon May 10 '16 at 23:33
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    'Was created' implies that it was created some time in the past but exactly when is unimportant. 'has been created' implies the event occurred very recently. – James May 10 '16 at 23:46
  • @stangdon yeah kinda I know it, but I always associate PP with an action that I do not mention the time, and I know it's wrong! – TMoraes May 11 '16 at 0:09
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    You can rarely appreciate verb tenses by looking at isolated sentences. We have little idea, given only the one sentence, which verb, if any, is the 'best' or most idiomatic for the context. Perhaps both are. But another thing to remember is that Wikipedia is not written by professional writers and sometimes the grammar and writing there is terrible. – Alan Carmack May 11 '16 at 1:39
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Just the fact that the exact time is not mentioned should not make you use present perfect automatically.

Think of present perfect as describing the present result of an action that is perfect (completed). It is useful to connect a past event to the present time.

If the main discussion is about about how "Doctor Manhattan" is doing these days, then the statement about its creators does describe a completed action, and present perfect is a good choice.

However, if the main point of the sentence is the creation, rather than the current state, then present perfect is not a good choice. It might leave the reader with a feeling of "... and then what?"

For describing events in the past without relating them to the present, persent perfect should not be used. Past simple is preferrable (and simple!)

  • A thought or an idea. For example, I had an idea, either thought or even an omen in the past and for some reason that was realized in this day. How should I describe it? Past Simple or Present Perfect? – TMoraes May 11 '16 at 21:24
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    For more details on when to use perfect, see this canonical answer. – laugh May 12 '16 at 6:21

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