Grammar Guru: Is it past or present perfect?

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There is a new argument being brought in by Republican opponents of the health bill. They say the health bill will “force” individuals into a contract with a private agency. This type of provision would be new in America, they say. So what do you think these opponents are saying?

  1. In the history of this country, the federal government has never required every American to enter into a contract with a private company. (present perfect)
  2. In the history of this country, the federal government never required every American to enter into a contract with a private company. (past)

If you want to look up the quote, see the original article here. Please feel free to comment or ask questions.

Comments

2 Responses

  1. It’s really interesting that almost everyone prefers the present perfect here, as actually used in the article.
    Perhaps it’s the word “never”, and the knowledge (or is it the hope) that the history of the US ist not quite over yet. It would be the natural choice for speakers of British English, certainly. So: great choice of tense, everyone!
    But I actually think you might find some speakers of American English quite happy to use the past tense here, as soon as they felt we were talking about finished time, about past events.


    Correct:
    In the history of this country, the federal government has never required every American to enter into a contract with a private company. (93%, 13 Votes)
    In the history of this country, the federal government never required every American to enter into a contract with a private company.(7%, 1 Votes)

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