Learn English – Is “He is risen” Correct


This is not correct, right? Mixing present tense and past tense makes me think it is not correct but I see it so often on signs that I'm not even sure any more. Is there a specific reason why it's often said like that or is it just consistently overlooked?

Best Answer

Given that this has appeared around Easter (albeit a couple of days early in my calendar), I'm going to answer on the basis of the phrase

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, alleluia!

which is used in some traditions.

There are two ways of looking at this.

  1. It's an archaic use of English which conjugates verbs of motion with be in present perfect, in much the same way as French still does. The statement is the equivalent of "Christ has risen" and is stating a present-perfect fact.

  2. It's stating an eternal truth that not only did he rise all those years ago, but he remains risen now. That is, not just "he has risen" but "he is risen" and risen is closer to being an adjective than a pure participle.

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