The feature has been enabled vs was enabled.

denislang

Member
Russian
Let's say my customer wants me to activate a feature in their setup. They don't have access and don't know the current state. There are two possible scenarios here and I would like to know the correct sentences for each scenario.

Scenario 1. The feature was disabled. I enabled it. It's been enabled now. My reply to the customer:
1) The feature has been enabled
2) The feature was enabled

Scenario 2: The feature was already enabled. I didn't do anything. It's been enabled now. My reply to the customer:
1) The feature had been already enabled by someone else.
2) The feature has been already enabled by someone else.
3) The feature was already enabled by someone else.
4) The feature is already enabled by someone else.


If several sentences are correct, please explain the difference in their meaning.
 
  • denislang

    Member
    Russian
    Scenario 1: The feature has now been re-enabled
    Thank you, lingogingo. Could you please clarify on why we would use "re-enabled" here? I guess this suggests that it was enabled at some time in the past and then disabled, what not necessarily should be the truth. I'm enabling it for the first time.

    Let's imagine I would like to express to the customer one of the following, depending on the situation:
    - STATE - the current state of the feature - I believe "The feature has been enabled" would be correct here
    - ACTION - the fact that I've done what the customer asked for - "the feature was enabled" or "The feature has been enabled"?

    What I'm trying to understand here is the difference between Present Perfect and Past Simple as well as how to report the "state" (the feature is currently "on") and the "action" (I've changed the state of the parameter) in English correctly.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    1. I have enabled the feature
      The feature has been enabled
    2. The feature was already enabled by someone else
    In (2), I don't think either of the perfect tenses would be wrong.

    The past simple describes what someone did. The person isn't particularly interested in what you have done, but what the current state is, which is why I haven't used the past simple in (1).
    In (2), you are offering a little bit of explanation (saying that you didn't have to do anything). The reason you didn't have to do anything is because someone else did something, hence the past simple, but you could also say it is because someone else has done something (before now) or had done something (before you were asked to check).
     

    denislang

    Member
    Russian
    1. I have enabled the feature
      The feature has been enabled
    2. The feature was already enabled by someone else
    In (2), I don't think either of the perfect tenses would be wrong.

    The past simple describes what someone did. The person isn't particularly interested in what you have done, but what the current state is, which is why I haven't used the past simple in (1).
    In (2), you are offering a little bit of explanation (saying that you didn't have to do anything). The reason you didn't have to do anything is because someone else did something, hence the past simple, but you could also say it is because someone else has done something (before now) or had done something (before you were asked to check).
    Thank you, Uncle Jack. I guess I'm closer to what I'm trying to understand.

    Let me clarify a few details here:
    Scenario 1:
    1. "The feature has been enabled" - gives information about the "state" of the feature: it is "on" now.
    3. "The feature is enabled" - what would be the difference with "The feature has been enabled", as this also giving away the current state: the feature is "on"?
    2. "I have enabled the feature" - giving away the "state" of the feature, the "action" I have done or the person who has done the action (me)?

    Scenario 2:
    1. "The feature was already enabled by someone else" - do I give away the "action" or the "state" from the past?
    Can I say here "The feature had been enabled by someone else" to show the "action" performed or "state" changed before they asked me to do it?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    1. "The feature has been enabled" - gives information about the "state" of the feature: it is "on" now.
    3. "The feature is enabled" - what would be the difference with "The feature has been enabled", as this also giving away the current state: the feature is "on"?
    'Is' tells you the current state and nothing else while 'has been' tells you the current state (in this case, but this is not always true of the present perfect) and that there has been an action to make the state like it is at an unspecified time in the past, by unspecified means.
    Although in practice the two statements give the same information, the present tense is more abrupt and suggests you don't want to (or cannot) talk about how the feature came to be enabled. You might well use the present tense if you were doing a quick check while the customer was there and you find it was already enabled, but if you were handing the machine back after working on it, the present perfect is more appropriate.

    2. "I have enabled the feature" - giving away the "state" of the feature, the "action" I have done or the person who has done the action (me)?
    This is the same as (1) but in the active voice, saying who did the enabling.

    Scenario 2:
    1. "The feature was already enabled by someone else" - do I give away the "action" or the "state" from the past?
    Can I say here "The feature had been enabled by someone else" to show the "action" performed or "state" changed before they asked me to do it?
    The simple past 'the feature was enabled by someone else' (without 'already') says that someone else enabled the feature but, strictly speaking, tells you nothing about the current state. Adding 'already' says it was still enabled when I came to look at it (and it would be exceptionally odd if it wasn't still enabled now).
    Yes, you can say 'The feature had been enabled by someone else'. Again, this really just refers to the action, and places it before the time you looked yourself, but there is an implication with the past perfect (unlike the simple past) that the feature was still enabled when you checked it. The present perfect is more certain regarding the current state, but less certain regarding the time, You could, for instance, have got your assistant to do the enabling.
     
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