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What tense is used with relationship statuses?

By 8 November 2017Language Tips

relationship statuses

Relationship statuses: single, engaged, married, separated, divorced, widowed are described with the present simple.

It is a fact of a person’s current state even if the event such as the marriage or divorce happened some time in the past.

Many students make the mistake of using the past simple such as in the example sentence above.

While the mistake is understandable, it identifies the writer as a non-native speaker and is an easy one to correct.

I am single.
Mrs Singh is divorced.
Mr Sofia is married.

If it is important to say how long this has been their state, then use the present perfect to show that the state started in the past and is still in progress:

I have been single since 2010.
Mrs Singh has been married for 40 years.

Writing Assessment Criteria Update