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    • Join Date: Apr 2008
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    Different Tense in a research report

    Hi teachers, these are from the passage about a research result of media consumption in Europe:

    Nordic countries had the highest rate of adult Internet surfers, with more than 50% claiming to be regular users, while usage was lowest in the southern reaches such as Spain and Portugal at just over 10%.
    In terms of newspaper readership, Britain has been toppled by Germany from its top position in Europe. The report showed that while Britain had Europe's highest national daily newspaper circulation figures per 100 population at 40.5 in 1989, that figure had fallen to 31.4 in 1999.

    Past tense is used in most part of the passage, but I don't know why it uses present perfect tense in the Britain newspaper readership 's position , instead of past tense in the "Nordic countries had" sentence. To emphasise Germany still ranks first currently?

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    Re: Different Tense in a research report

    First, the writer could probably have said that Nordic countries have the highest whatever, but he/she wanted to be clear that the statistics were valid only at the time they were gathered. They may have changed, but that's what they were.

    The statement about Briting having been toppled ("Britian has been toppled") is not present tense. It refers to an event that happened in the past: Britain was toppled. You are right to suggest that the writer wants to stress that Britian is still in the toppled condition, and that's why that particular variant of tense ("has been") was used. Otherwise, to state that "Britian was toppled" allows hope for theri having climbed back on top again since that awful day.

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