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Most questions (especially those with low quality) that I see on Stack Overflow use present perfect when a simple past tense would work in describing what they did (I did this, I did that, ...). Is there a particular reason for that? Is it some kind of a programmer's slang?

Example For example, see this example (that I edited). In this example, the verb is not even past participle, and it looks as if the OP is mistaking the sequence "I've" to simply mean "I". I saw so many of this sequence "I've" used in Stack Overflow. I am wondering what the cause of this is.

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closed as not constructive by hims056, animuson, Michael Petrotta, Doorknob, Rory Apr 26 '13 at 12:58

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English is my 3rd Language, and I am Prefectly Present on S.O. since last 495, So you can see Present Perfect Tense in my sentences. – Lucifer Apr 26 '13 at 8:42
Visit : English Language and Usage site for these tense questions. – user220080 Apr 26 '13 at 10:03
@exploringnet I don't think it is plain English. It is specific to programmers. – sawa Apr 26 '13 at 10:06
This does not have anything regarding programming....? – user220080 Apr 26 '13 at 10:07
Although it now seems clear this is not the case, I have to admit that when I first read this I immediately thought it was written by some kind of incredibly esoteric troll.... – David John Welsh Apr 26 '13 at 10:10
@DavidJohnWelsh Why is that? I wrote this seriously. What is wrong with it? – sawa May 1 '13 at 7:43
@sawa Because it appeared you were asking why people were using a part of standard English in precisely the way it was intended to be used. Why do some people use spades for digging? Is it some gardener's custom? That a group of speakers (such as programmers) would have certain slang terms is obviously very likely, but the idea that tense or aspect would be used in that context seemed... overly silly. To me. For all I know, there are groups that do do this. As I said, it was just an initial gut reaction, and I see now that you meant it seriously. The example helped a lot to clarify. – David John Welsh May 1 '13 at 8:08

The present perfect is a grammatical combination of the present tense and the perfect aspect, used to express a past event that has present consequences.


By definition, questions which are asked on Stack Exchange are currently a problem and the user only describes the background to that problem. So I don't see why this wouldn't fit to be used.

Though, I also have to say that I suck at anything which has to do with tenses (both in my mother tongue German and in English). So I might not be that aware that there is a problem with that.

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I don't know about other languages, but in German you'd use the (equivalent of the) present perfect tense all the time when describing things you did. Research papers written by Germans are full of "we have analyzed" et cetera. – slhck Apr 26 '13 at 8:46
I see it used in describing what they did like I have done .... It doesn't add any information compared to I did .... – sawa Apr 26 '13 at 8:46
@slhck German is different. German is under a general language-changing process of replacing past with perfect. That is a whole language change. Simple past tense itself is dying. In English, it is not. – sawa Apr 26 '13 at 8:47
@sawa Of course it doesn't add any information, but if it's closer to the mother tongue of the OP, then why would they write anything else? If they had a proper understanding of grammar in the first place, they maybe wouldn't write their posts in present perfect. You do know that a significant amount of low quality posts are from speakers whose mother tongue is not English? – slhck Apr 26 '13 at 8:49
@slhck A significant amount of low quality posts may be from non-natives as you wrote, but I didn't necessarily mean that. I found these expressions even on post by people who seem to be located in US. – sawa Apr 26 '13 at 8:52
@sawa: No, the correct use of tenses and/or grammar does not add anything "informational". But when I explain something I use "I have tried a and b" and answer direct questions with "Yes, I tried c". Now that I think about it "I have tried..." really shows me that there is still something going on and input from my end is requested, while "I tried" is a pure "ok" to me. But as slhck pointed out, that might be because of my mother tongue. – Time Traveling Bobby Apr 26 '13 at 8:52
@sawa Fair enough. I'm not a native speaker, so I wouldn't know why that phenomenon also occurs in American English. I agree: it sounds wrong… but languages and their usage constantly change. Maybe ask on English Language & Usage? – slhck Apr 26 '13 at 8:55
SulfurizedDemonbobby, slhck If it is influenced by the OP's native language like German, then that is understandable. I felt I only find this kind of expressions in stackoverflow, so I was curious whether it is just for programmers. Anyway, thanks for the opinions. – sawa Apr 26 '13 at 8:59

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