The question

What is the difference between these two sentences (“was created” vs “has been created”)? [duplicate]

has been marked as "an exact duplicate" of

Canonical Post #2: What is the perfect, and how should I use it?

Is it best practice to do this? (Granted the question actually asks two questions and should have been split up.)

We are pointing a learner to a post which is a multipart treatise on the perfect which, as much as I like it, is probably written at a level that is way over the heads of most learners here. Also, its length might be seen as daunting to many learners. Yes it's a good resource, but how much of a service is it to mark a basic question about the difference between the simple past and the present perfect as a duplicate of this treatise?

For what it's worth, I've read the canonical answer (all four or five days parts) and come away with my mind reeling.

I'm not sure we're providing learners (many of whom cannot write a single grammatical sentence) with the best practice by marking their questions as a duplicate and pointing them to this treatise. This is no longer an Ask a question, get an answer situation, but Ask a question, get pointed to something that will take you hours to read and which maybe you will understand.

I don't think this is best pedagogical practice.

  • 5
    It isn't marked as an exact duplicate (which would mean it gets deleted). It's marked as a duplicate because the answer to the question is in that post. If the answer isn't understandable from the duplicate or the OP disagrees that duplicate is helpful to them, the correct thing to do is to edit the original question and explain why the duplicate isn't helpful. Answering all of the "what is the difference between the perfect and the simple past" questions individually I think would make it more difficult for learners with the same question to find a definitive answer, not easier.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 24, 2016 at 14:59
  • 2
    @ColleenV the verbage includes "This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question." Aug 24, 2016 at 15:48
  • I submit that most learners will not have the ability, desire and wherewithal to attempt such a daunting task as read through this canonical post in an attempt to find the answer to the question. I don't think the average learner will be able to process the canonical answer so that they can edit their question to explain why the canonical post doesn't answer their question. And I submit that an easier to understand canonical post may be more appropriate. @StoneyB and ColleenV, et al. Aug 24, 2016 at 15:55
  • 2
    Considering how we can't expect learners to tag their question properly, how will they ever manage to edit their question to save it from closure/duplication? I'm all up for helping write a new answer to that post, which is dumbed down to my level, but definitely not another canonical post.
    – M.A.R.
    Aug 24, 2016 at 16:16
  • I like the idea of maybe having an answer for the most common "what's the difference between " questions. Simple past vs past perfect etc Even in sections, the canonical post is daunting. The canonical post is used because it's hard to identify the best of the many questions we get on the topic.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 24, 2016 at 16:18
  • Oh and I see what you mean about the "exact duplicate" wording at the bottom. I really dislike that but I don't know if there is a way to fix it :(
    – ColleenV
    Aug 24, 2016 at 18:52
  • So here's a highly up-voted simple past vs past perfect question with no highly up-voted answer: ell.stackexchange.com/q/33937 if we could get a decent answer to it, it might serve as one possible alternative for closing as a duplicate (but not for this particular question).
    – ColleenV
    Aug 24, 2016 at 20:07
  • 1
    @ColleenV Hmm ... but that's past-vs-past-perfect. I like this. Aug 24, 2016 at 21:27
  • @StoneyB I think that's a better match. I would like to figure out the best questions for past/past-perfect, past/present-perfect and the other common pairings we see. I think Alan is right and taking the easy way out and closing them all as dupes of a reference post is not very nice. I wish to atone, but maybe it should really be a different meta post :)
    – ColleenV
    Aug 24, 2016 at 22:00
  • 1
    @ColleenV - I think either [ell.stackexchange.com/a/77747/32] (which is my answer) or FumbleFingers' Perfect Truism would cover past-vs-past-perfect. [ell.stackexchange.com/q/84256/32] works for present-vs-present-perfect.I have no feeling about future-vs-future-perfect, but that's mostly because I feel that future perfect is so rare that learners shouldn't be wasting their (or teachers shouldn't be wasting their students' time) on it. Aug 24, 2016 at 22:22
  • +1 Excellent question @AlanCarmack . I've often thought that what we need are multiple canonicals written for a much less erudite audience than StoneyB's mind-reeler: one each for the broad sub-headings, with links to the mother lode for those who feel able to delve more deeply. Rather than marking as duplicate, we could provide a link to the appropriate Baby Canonical. This is better for the questioners, and better for the answerers who dread having to explain differences in time perspective to questioners who, as Alan points out, may already be struggling with basic comprehension. Aug 25, 2016 at 20:45

2 Answers 2


Oh, dear.

As author of that Canonical Post I quite agree that it is rarely if ever appropriate to link to it as a prior Answer to a Question, much less to cite it as a 'duplicate'.

The post itself is headed

This is a Canonical Post, intended as a reference and resource for both Questioners and Answerers.

And in fact we had discussed the purpose of a CP here on Meta as I was in the process of composing it, and at that time I wrote (among other things):

I feel that what the Canonical Post should do is provide the essential formal categories and rules which are part of the background to every question. This will leave us free to post brief answers directly responsive to the specifics of OPs' questions, and refer them for terminological explanation and theoretical detail to the CP.

I do think that the new Question is a duplicate of many other questions on precisely the same topic. But OP's attention should be directed to one of those, not to the Canonical Post.

I'm not sure how we go about that, though. Do we have to reopen it, and then re-close it as duplicate of a more useful referent? Or can we ask a mod to handle it through other channels?


I see two options that will allow us to collect similar questions together (which helps everyone) without just telling learners to RTFM. I've made this a community wiki so we can collect good "perfect versus" answers in addition to the ones already in the comments.

  1. Find the best example of an existing question with a decent answer for the most common "What's the difference between X and the perfect X?", beautify them and use them as our "go-to" when merited.

  2. Write a question and answer for each of the most common questions about the perfect and use those as our "go-to" when merited.

I think we should use existing questions. They're already in the language that a learner would use to ask such questions, so there would be less risk of the writing being too sophisticated, and they're already answered so it would take less effort to turn them into something we could refer to.

past-vs-past-perfect options

Why does a sentence start with Past Perfect but continue in Past Simple?
Verb tenses when asking a question past simple versus past perfect

past-vs-present-perfect options

Present Perfect or Past Simple (two similar samples)

present-vs-present-perfect options

What is the grammatical difference between: "that he borrowed" and "that he has borrowed?

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