Strike (was/has been) called off AFTER the union accepted ...

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AntiScam

Senior Member
Arabic
Greetings,

Which one is correct, "was" or "has been" in the paragraph below from a news report? or is it possible that both are correct?
The union has just confirmed that train drivers will go on strike at midnight. However, next week's postal strike (was/has been) called off AFTER the union accepted a pay offer of 3.4%.
The issue here is that both actions were carried out in sequence: (call off) and (accept), and this calls for the past simple. I was told that when two past actions are in sequence, we should use the past simple. The "rule" does not make exceptions for news reports. Besides, when I asked about the possibility of using present perfect simple after the word "after" everyone said it is not possible, or this is what I understood from them. This was on an online English website.

The news is the quote above chooses the present perfect simple active not the past simple passive.
Could you explain in detail why you would choose one over the other.
 
  • SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I don't know about those people, but I for one would say that both has been and was are correct.

    Without any further context, I'd infer that the perfect was used because the news report wanted to put more emphasis on the recency or the effect of the strike being cancelled instead of the fact of the cancellation.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Had I been writing that news report, I'd have used "has been called off" as well. It sounds odd to me to use "was" when referring to "next week's strike".

    Other than that, I agree with SR that it's because the news is very recent: it's something which has only just happened.
     

    AntiScam

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    Thank you guys.
    I would say "has been called off" too but not after the adverb "after" when you are told by these very books, the meaning of which, "we use past simple with adverbs of sequence: before and after". This is the issue here. I would like to see some evidence. Or is it that we are not taught everything?

    When using after and before, it is like using yesterday with the verb; you cannot use present perfect.
    I must have been missing something here.

    Edit:
    These are some quotes from the web. I see a pattern here:
    "General Beringer: [smiles sarcastically at McKittrick] Mr. McKittrick, after very careful consideration, sir, I've come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks."
    "After speaking to you for five minutes I've come to the conclusion you're an idiot."
    "After about a day of playtime, I've come to the conclusion that ..."
    "After reaching the end of FFVI [a game I think], I've come to the conclusion ..."
     
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    SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Had I been writing that news report, I'd have used "has been called off" as well. It sounds odd to me to use "was" when referring to "next week's strike".
    I don't understand why you find the past tense weird. If we drop the passive,

    The union canceled next week's postal strike after the union accepted a pay offer of 3.4%.

    doesn't strike me as unnatural and I'd be interested in your analysis as to why you think it is. I guess the only reason that I can think of is the lack of any expressions of time refering to when these events took place. Maybe inserting an earlier before after would make it sound a bit better.

    Now, if the article refers to a current event, the version with the perfect is more appropriate, as we have established. Let's say there was supposed to be a postal strike in the week of May 25 but the union agreed to an offer on May 17. I'd say that in a situation like this, the perfect is problematic but the simple past works fine.

    Thank you guys.
    I would say "has been called off" too but not after the adverb "after" when you are told by these very books, the meaning of which, "we use past simple with adverbs of sequence: before and after". This is the issue here. I would like to see some evidence. Or is it that we are not taught everything?

    When using after and before, it is like using yesterday with the verb; you cannot use present perfect.
    I must have been missing something here.
    No, I don't agree with grammar books that claim that after or before cannot be used with other tenses. In fact, I'd be more inclined to say:

    I'd had that washing machine for 5 years before it broke.
    I'd lived in New York for a decade before moving to London.


    than anything using the simple past. However, when the duration is not clearly expressed, my intuition tells me that the simple past works better:

    I lived in New York before I moved to London.
    I had an older washing machine before it broke.


    The same thing applies to after. Expressions like:

    After he graduated, he moved to Los Angeles.

    sound a lot better than

    After he'd graduated, he moved to Los Angeles.

    The present perfect is a difficult case. I don't know about DonnyB or other native speakers, but I think that

    The union has called off the strike after they accepted a pay offer of 3.4%

    indeed does sound weird. For some reason, the passive voice makes the original sentence acceptable. If we had to rewrite this sentence, I'd use a slightly different construction:

    The union has called off the strike after accepting a pay offer of 3.4%.
     
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    AntiScam

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    I'm trying to figure it out, so please correct me.
    ==================================

    Ok, I think I get it. They scare us from using "after" maybe because it is used in narrative contexts. However, giving news is not narration. News has relevance to the present and uses the present perfect [by definition?!] so this overrides the restriction.

    However, this extends to the nature of present perfect. One use is "to introduce" a current relevant result of a past action="resultative present perfect". These quotes backs it up:
    "General Beringer: [smiles sarcastically at McKittrick] Mr. McKittrick, after very careful consideration, sir, I've come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks."
    "After speaking to you for five minutes I've come to the conclusion you're an idiot."
    "After about a day of playtime, I've come to the conclusion that ..."
    "After reaching the end of FFVI [a game I think], I've come to the conclusion ..."
    I noticed this works for-at least so far-past events not for continued past actions as in:

    Since then I've been studying on my own.
    Since I had that experience, I've never been the same.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I don't understand why you find the past tense weird. If we drop the passive,

    The union canceled next week's postal strike after the union accepted a pay offer of 3.4%.

    doesn't strike me as unnatural and I'd be interested in your analysis as to why you think it is. I guess the only reason that I can think of is the lack of any expressions of time refering to when these events took place. Maybe inserting an earlier before after would make it sound a bit better.
    I said I thought the simple past sounded odd there because it's a report of 'breaking' news. Although there are no expressions of time as such, the inference is clearly that the strike had only just been called off, and the whole excerpt starts with a perfect tense: "The union has just confirmed that train drivers will go on strike at midnight".
    The present perfect is a difficult case. I don't know about DonnyB or other native speakers, but I think that

    The union has called off the strike after they accepted a pay offer of 3.4%

    indeed does sound weird. For some reason, the passive voice makes the original sentence acceptable. If we had to rewrite this sentence, I'd use a slightly different construction:

    The union has called off the strike after accepting a pay offer of 3.4%.
    I would use your second version there, too. However. the OP's understanding, as I read it, was that a verb in the perfect tense could not follow the word "after".
    So I would not say for example: "The union is calling off the strike after they have accepted a pay offer of 3.4%" .
    On the other hand I don't have a problem with: "The union will meet to consider calling off the strike after they have balloted members on the employers' pay offer of 3.4%".
     

    AntiScam

    Senior Member
    Arabic
    So I would not say for example: "The union is calling off the strike after they have accepted a pay offer of 3.4%" .
    On the other hand I don't have a problem with: "The union will meet to consider calling off the strike after they have balloted members on the employers' pay offer of 3.4%".
    Yes, this is common.

    The present perfect can be used with time clauses introduced by after, when, until, as soon as, once, by the time, and expressions like the minute/ the moment, etc., to refer to future events, e.g:

    He’ll call you as soon as he’s got the results.
    We won’t know the details until we’ve talked to Jack.
    She’ll be forty by the time she has finished the course.
    I’ll let you know the minute I’ve heard something.
    Source: onestopenglish


    Edit: (present perfect + after + past simple)
    The death toll at Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, where the glacier is, stands at 238 but there have also been up to 60 people whose bodies have not been recovered after they went missing in the area.
    Source: Missing Climber Identified After 42 Years (SkyNews)

    The great news is the present perfect in the quote is of the type whose action continues to the present!
    So now we have both types that go with "after":
    The resultative (I've come to the conclusion) and
    the continuative (have not been recovered)
     
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    SReynolds

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I said I thought the simple past sounded odd there because it's a report of 'breaking' news. Although there are no expressions of time as such, the inference is clearly that the strike had only just been called off, and the whole excerpt starts with a perfect tense: "The union has just confirmed that train drivers will go on strike at midnight".
    You are right, the perfect does make it crystal clear. I must have a serious case of tunnel vision because I completely glossed over that sentence four times.
     
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