since vs. after

1-They [color=red]have reverted to their old religion [color=red]since their grandfathers were converted by force to the religion of the conquerors.

2-They [color=blue]reverted to their old religion after their grandfathers [color=blue]were converted by force to the religion of the conquerors.

Could one use #1 instead of #2?
Is there any difference in the meanings of those sentences (other than that in #1, ‘since’ could mean ‘because’ as well as be a time preposition hence creating ambiguity)?

There is no ambiguity in the first sentence. It seems obvious from the context that ‘since’ means ‘because’ here.

The second sentence doesn’t make much sense. I would perhaps add an expression of time like a hundred years (after their grandfathers…). In any case, the meaning is different from that of the first sentence.

Edit: different from (not ‘different to’, as I had written!)

Hi Navi

You’re right about the ambiguity – or at least the potential for confusion – in the first sentence.

Assuming the word ‘since’ does not mean ‘because’ in the first sentence, there wouldn’t really be any difference in meaning between the sentences.

If you want to ensure that meaning of ‘since’ is understood as ‘after’ in the first sentence, you could reword it this way: ‘… since their grandfathers’ forced conversion to the religion…’


Hi, Amy !

But in sentence 2 we have past and in sentence 1 - present tense. I mean that from the phrase “they reverted to smth.” we may infer that some time afterwards they might revert to something else. OTOH, from “they have reverted to smth” we cannot infer anything of that kind.

Is my reasoning right?


No, in sentence 1 we have the present perfect simple. The present perfect simple is used to talk about something that happened in the past. Often it is the recent past, but sometimes it isn’t. Often it has some sort of very direct influence on something else that is happening in the present. Sometimes it is simply used when the precise time of the past event isn’t important. Sometimes it simply refers to what has happened “up to now”. Keep in mind that anything that happens before now is in the past. :wink:

There are many sentences in which the choice between using the present perfect and the simple past tense simply depends on how the author is viewing things. Learning how to use the present perfect is complicated. To even begin to understand it properly, you often need a lot of context – often it takes much more than one sentence to grasp why it was used.

Finally, just to make things really fun and exciting for ESL students, the present perfect tends to be used less frequently in American English than in British English. 8)


Hi, Amy,

Thank you for your input, but I meant a little bit different thing. Please, consider the following 2 cases:

Case 1: They reverted to their old religion. Shortly afterwards they reverted to another religion
Case 2: They have reverted to their old religion. Shortly afterwards they have reverted to another religion

I was taught that Case 1 is possible, but case 2 is impossible (because present perfect sums up and no development of events is possible)

Is it a correct statement?

Thanks :slight_smile:


I agree that case 1 is possible and case 2 isn’t.

In the sentences that Navi posted, we are told ‘they reverted’ and ‘they have reverted’. Both of these are completed actions in the past. There is nothing in either sentence that indicates whether there was or will be any further reversion. Saying ‘they reverted’ definitely does not suggest in any way that another reversion came after ‘they reverted back to the old religion’. It is entirely possible that there were no further reversions.

Grammatically speaking, however, the use of the simple past tense allows us to possibly add information about further (later) reversions, if there were any. This sort of information might be mentioned in later sentences.

In Navi’s sentences, there is no difference in meaning between reverted and have reverted.