If I do a search on ELL for have been I get 17K+ results. Have vs Have Been yields a more manageable 409 results. This is just for those specific words. ELL, however, is filled with similar results for all perfect/continuous tense situations.

Can we, as a group, agree on the most comprehensive answer to this question and then just direct all new questions to that answer? I've seen some really great answers over the past several years and can't believe that the amount effort that went into those answers is matched with every new answer. In other words, the twenty word answer I provide today is most likely inferior to the 1,800 word answer provided four years ago.


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I doubt we could find a single answer that would be helpful to all the questions with "have" compared with "have been" in them. I think the consensus was that it isn't very helpful to direct every question about perfect constructions to the canonical post on the subject and I don't think it would be productive to try to close all questions about some subset of that post as duplicates. The perfect in English is really hard to understand. I do think we can identify some good duplicate targets for frequently asked questions of all sorts though.

One way to improve the situation is to group those questions with a tag so it is easier to find relevant duplicates and related questions. We have a number of "-vs-" tags, like and . Not all of them have good descriptions and we can't expect the person asking the question to know which tags they should use though.

Adding a good combination of tags makes the "Related" questions in the sidebar much more relevant, which could head some duplicates off at the pass. I know most people completely ignore tags, because they aren't very useful in their current state. If fewer folks ignored them when editing a post, maybe they would be more useful.

  • Yes, some tag cleanup would be nice. Searching "perfect" yields 13 tags, only 7 of which have descriptions. And some seem to be overlaps, such as "perfect-aspect" (with 109 questions) and "perfect" (with 0)--but it's hard to tell whether they really overlap, because neither has a description. Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 3:56
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    @MarcInManhattan If you see a tag with zero questions, it almost always means it is a synonym for another tag. Tags with no questions are deleted once a day, so there may be a tag that just hasn’t been cleaned up yet. If you click on them, it should redirect you to the main tag.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 12:26
  • +1 The grammar and meaning of language constructions is often hugely complex, and as StoneyB has shown, we can't have one one paragraph answer for the present perfect (or for "has been" or for the verb BE!). Commented Apr 8, 2022 at 14:39

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