I am editing a technical report and among other things changing the tense of the document from future to past. This involves changing the "will be" in sentences like "The results will be modified to improve the overall organization of ..." to "have been" or "were"/"was". To prevent repetition I have been alternating the usage of "have been" and "were."
The question:
I started wondering if there is a difference between "have been" and "were" such that only one is appropriate for any given sentence, or if it is correct to use them interchangeably.
I understand that this most likely won't matter to anybody reading the report other than me, but still feel inclined to ask the question, and use the English language as properly as I can enable myself to. Hmmm; I mean: ... as properly as I am able to enable myself. I don't like the way that sounds. "... and enable myself to use the English language to the highest possible degree of properly." Hmm..

Anal in Raleigh
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I am editing a technical report and among other things changing the tense of the document from future to past. ... "were" such that only one is appropriate for any given sentence, or if it is correct to use them interchangeably.

When describing tasks that have been completed, but the results of which are still in effect, I'd stick to the past imperfect "has/have been". E.g. "The widgets database has been transferred to the new server".

If you're describing specific steps that were performed as part of attempting achieve an certain ongoing result, past perfect is preferable. E.g. "After installation, the server was rebooted."

Alternating for the sake of variety is probably about the worst reason to determine tense.
I am editing a technical report and among other things ... sentence, or if it is correct to use them interchangeably.

When describing tasks that have been completed, but the results of which are still in effect, I'd stick to the past imperfect

Urr
"has/have been". E.g. "The widgets database has been transferred to the new server". If you're describing specific steps that were ... installation, the server was rebooted." Alternating for the sake of variety is probably about the worst reason to determine tense.

Oh fer *** sake...
Simple Past - 'I lived there for 20 years' - refers to a time period now finished.
Present* *Perfect - I have lived there for 20 years - time that began in the past but continues, or an event that is now finished but who's influence contiunes into the present.
DC
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When describing tasks that have been completed, but the results of which are still in effect, I'd stick to the past imperfect

Urr

My bad...I meant to double-check the terminology before sending...not that it really made much difference to what the poster wanted to know.
Andrew wrote on 29 Oct 2004:
I am editing a technical report and among other things changing the tense of the document from future to past. ... way that sounds. "... and enable myself to use the English language to the highest possible degree of properly." Hmm..

I'd stick to one tense instead of alternating. I think I'd use the simple past if it's in the text of the report. I usually use the present perfect for cover letters to editors and reviewers of medical journals, because in those I say essentially that "The changes you requested have been made".

Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor
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been" and >> "were" such that only one is appropriate for any given sentence, or if >> it is correct to use them interchangeably. Urr

My bad...I meant to double-check the terminology before sending...not that it really made much difference to what the poster wanted to know.

I thought you were just making a joke. Calling the "perect" the "imperfect" has some justification, after all - particularly for learners who are struggling to understand it.
It's rather like saying that the programming language LISP is so called from the abbreviation "Lots of Infuriatingly Stupid Parentheses".

Mark Barratt
Budapest
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Mark Barratt Budapest

Do you live in (former) Buda or in Pest?

Reinhold (Rey) Aman, Philologist
AUEer Emeritus & Eremitus
Mark Barratt Budapest

Do you live in (former) Buda or in Pest?

A quick glance out of my window assures me that there's nothing "former" about this part of Buda (Roszadomb, in the second district). Óbuda, in the third district, was intact yesterday. I have to travel to the 11th district to give a lesson in a few minutes. I'll let you know if it's still there when I get back. My route will take me via Batthany Tér, which will, unless it's exceptionally foggy, also allow me to glance over the Danube and verify the continued existence of downtown Pest.
I understand that it's been a long time since Buda and Pest were administered as different cities, but the names persist - as geographical markers, at least.

Mark Barratt
Budapest
Please excuse my top posting. I think you guys failed overall as a team, but you each put out a good effort. ( :-D j/k ) Thank you for your help. The most important question has been answered: that there is a difference of tense. Now I need to actually understnad the difference, and be able to think in terms of how the tenses should be used, which I am not experienced in (for these particular tenses). Keep in mind that I am an Engineer who took "Honor's English" through high school. Basically I am probably a better writer than most Engineers, but don't have a grasp of all the terminology as a professor of grammar and usage would.
What I am updating is a design document that detailed what "would be" done to say what "has been" done. Wow, I'm learning already: I just realized that I used a different tense in "would be" than the document used when it used "will be." What those tenses are I don't know. For the most part, I think only one tense will be used which I think is the one that used "have been," because it describes something that happened, the results of which still have affect, vs. "was" which describes something past which may no longer have affect. Is that correct? However I think there are still exceptions.

"This 'has been' done" is which tense?
"This 'was' done" is which tense?
Where is a good place to read and better understand how these tenses are used?
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