past simple or present perfect

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Senior Member
Complete the sentences with the correct tense of the verbs in brackets. (past simple or present perfect ) .​
1- Gibran Khalil Gibran …….. (illustrate) lots of his books. In the 1960s his book, the Prophet ……… ( become) a countercultural guide .​
2- William Shakespeare ……………. ( write ) Romeo and Juliet, one of the most famous tragic plays in history. He also …………… (act) in the Globe Theatre in London.​
The suggested answers for the above mentioned sentences are​
1- has illustrated / became​
2- wrote / acted​
Why did we use the present perfect in the first one, while we used the past simple in the second one? Although the two sentences are similar and I cant find any difference between them at all.​
By the way I read these sentences in grammar section in an English book​
  • Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    The second sentece says about William Shakespeare who lived a few centuries ago, so it lists some facts that have no connection with the presetn.
    The first sentence says about someone who is most probably still alive and can illustrate more books, there is a connection with the present, hence the present perfect.



    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    ... illustrated ...
    Completed action in the past.
    ... has illustrated ...
    Action in the past that continues to the present (and may continue into the future but we don't know that).

    Which is a more pompous way of saying just what Tom said.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    Excellent question, Mr X, this is something I had not thought about before.

    Having looked at Wikipedia and discovered that Gibral Khalil Gibran died in 1931, I feel that the only possible option is simple past in each case: illustrated and wrote. To me, a dead person is never the subject of a present perfect verb: if you are dead, you are history, and the tense of history is the simple past; and this is true even if the result of your action is still staring us in the face.

    Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet and we can all watch it on stage if we wish.
    Alan Bennet has written The History Boys and we can all watch it on stage if we wish.
    Mr Bush has started two wars in the Middle East, and we have to live with the consequences.
    The founders of the United Nations wrote its constitution as they did, and we have to live with the consequences.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    First of all, I want to thank all of you
    in fact, the suggested answers that I presented to you are not mine.
    For me, I would choose the simple past in each sentence.
    these answers are by Mr. Michael Harris, Mr. David Mower and Ms Anna Sikorzynska
    and all of them are experienced teachers and teacher trainers
    I don't know whether you recognized them or not ?
    But they really puzzled me
    and I want to assure you that the person in the first sentence namely Gibran Khalil Gibran is also dead.
    and what applies to Shakespeare applies to him in the sense of whatever they did is history and the best option I think is to use past simple.​


    Senior Member
    US, English
    Perfhaps the person who wrote the "has illustrated" answer did not realize that Gibran was no longer alive? I agree that the answer should be in the simple past.


    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    I didn't know who Gibran Khalil Gibran had been when I was writing my post and I assumed that he might have been still alive, so may have done the authors of the book.

    Having read the thread now, I agree that past simple works better.

    Mrxkms, could you please give the title of the book, the part if it's a set, and page where you found this?
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