"read and accepted" or "read and accept"?


Is this phrase correct?

By purchasing this product, you certify that you have read and accepted the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions...

Is it just me or it feels like "read and accepted" should be "read and accept" only, or is it already grammatically valid?

John Isaiah Carmona

Posted 2013-01-31T08:05:31.547

Reputation: 151



The word have in the phrase suggests that the action has already been taken, ie it is in the past. Therefore, the verbs indicate past tense: you have already read (pronounced 'red') and accepted the conditions.

If the have wasn't there, then that clause in the sentence would be saying that you will (but haven't yet) read (pronounced reed) and accept the conditions.

So, the statement is grammatically correct. It deals with tenses a bit awkwardly, but it is valid.


Posted 2013-01-31T08:05:31.547

Reputation: 6 050

How can I remove the awkwardness of that sentence, in terms of it's tense? – John Isaiah Carmona – 2013-01-31T08:23:59.540

I don't know that you can. The first part 'By purchasing...' is talking about a future event (the purchase of the product), as if it had happened in the past. It's because when you read the phrase you haven't yet bought the product, but once you do buy the product you will have already agreed to the conditions. Just blame the lawyers for the awkwardness. – mcalex – 2013-01-31T08:36:36.263

1@John: I think you are mistaken in supposing the sentence is "awkward". Native speakers transparently assume the correct verb form (past tense pronounced "red", rather than present tense "reed") because it's preceded by "have", and followed by another past tense ("accepted"). The awkwardness that needs to be removed is that of your perception, not the sentence itself. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2013-02-01T23:29:48.970


Indeed, "have" is the key word to understand what's going on here.
"Have" indicates past perfect tense, contrary to a simple past if "have" were omitted.

So, in this sentence, "have" applies both verbs: "have read and have accepted". A programmer would say, "have (read and accepted)" if it were possible with a natural language. :-)

This fact has an important results in some phrases. Consider:

You read, accepted, and did what you've been asked for;
You have read, accepted, and done what you've been asked for;

Most English verbs have equal Past Simple and Past Participle forms ("accepted" vs. "have accepted"), but for some irregular verbs, the difference is significant ("did" vs. "have done").


Posted 2013-01-31T08:05:31.547

Reputation: 7 759

Correction: "Have" indicates present perfect tense. Other than that, this is a good answer – laugh salutes Monica C – 2019-07-13T08:46:12.883


There is actually a reason to claim that have read and accept may be preferable.

The phrase "have read and accepted the Privacy Policy" is equivalent to "have read and have accepted the Privacy Policy" (the omission of the second "have" is an example of an ellipsis). This is a present perfect construction, and it means that at this point in time, the following facts are established (completed):

  1. You read (in the past) the Privacy Policy
  2. You accepted (in the past) the Privacy Policy.

Note that the established facts are in the past, but the situation being described is present. This is the reason it is called present perfect, and this is why you can't add any time-indicating adverb like "yesterday" or "earlier".

However, it can be claimed that the facts that need to be established are instead that

  1. You read (in the past) the Privacy Policy
  2. You accept (in the present) the Privacy Policy

If this is the case, then the "accept" part should not be in present perfect, but rather in present simple; the sentence should be "...you certify that you have read and accept the Privacy Policy..." (there is still an ellipsis here - you could expand it to "that you have read and that you accept").

Compare this to another sentence which use the verb "be" in the present simple: "You certify that you have studied and are proficient in English".

laugh salutes Monica C

Posted 2013-01-31T08:05:31.547

Reputation: 5 782

I believe that instead of "you have read and accept...", if we want to mix past and present, it may be better to repeat the subject: "you have read and you accept..." – Cœur – 2019-07-22T03:00:50.620