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  1. #1
    soleiljy is offline Junior Member
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    Default Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    A and B are students. They worked things related to computer files together this morning and B was supposed to send those files to a professor.

    five hours later, A called B to make sure whether B sent files.

    A: (1) Hey B, did you send files?
    (2) Hey B, have you sent files?

    which one is correct? moreover, please let me know meanings conveyed by each one.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    Quote Originally Posted by soleiljy View Post
    A and B are students. They worked things related to computer files together this morning and B was supposed to send those files to a professor.

    five hours later, A called B to make sure whether B sent files.

    A: (1) Hey B, did you send files?
    (2) Hey B, have you sent files?

    which one is correct? moreover, please let me know meanings conveyed by each one.

    Thanks.
    1...It should say 'the files' or 'those files' because they are the files A and B worked on this morning.

    2...Both '...did you send (the)(those) files?' and '...have you sent (the)(those) files?' are correct, and both have the same meaning.

  3. #3
    abra is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    A related question:
    I have lots of students and when I'm about to tell them another story or joke, I sometimes
    feel I might have already told it. I tend to say 'Did I tell you about...', but always doubt whether or not it should be 'Have I told you'...
    Thanks in advance

  4. #4
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    Quote Originally Posted by abra View Post
    A related question:
    I have lots of students and when I'm about to tell them another story or joke, I sometimes
    feel I might have already told it. I tend to say 'Did I tell you about...', but always doubt whether or not it should be 'Have I told you'...
    Thanks in advance
    "Did I tell you about...?" is absolutely okay.

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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    2...Both '...did you send (the)(those) files?' and '...have you sent (the)(those) files?' are correct, and both have the same meaning.
    Actually, this isn't true, and it's one of the biggest stumbling blocks for learners of English.

    The present perfect ("Have you sent the files?") is used to connect a past action with a present situation: "Have you sent the files?" means the same as, "Does the professor have the files now?"

    The past simple ("Did you send the files?") refers only to the action itself, and has no connection with the present at all.

    With something as abstract as computer files, the difference is not clear, but consider this pair of sentences:

    I wrote a letter.
    I have written a letter.

    The first sentence simply means that at some time in the past, I wrote a letter. Without any other context, it's not possible to say anything more than that.

    The second sentence means that right now, there exists in my possession a completed letter, ready to be posted. The focus is on the result of the writing, not the writing itself.

    Back to the original question, and in cases like this, where you are asking if somebody has recently performed a certain action, you can choose which tense you prefer to use. American speakers will prefer the past simple, while British speakers will usually use the present perfect.

    Generally, if the connection with the present is clear from the context, or is made clear by a word like "already" or "just", Americans will use the past simple:

    I just sent it. (American English)
    I've just sent it. (British English)

  6. #6
    abra is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    Thanks 2006!
    I've noticed that voices from Canuckstan play a very special role in my online life!

  7. #7
    2006 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Actually, this isn't true, and it's one of the biggest stumbling blocks for learners of English.

    The present perfect ("Have you sent the files?") is used to connect a past action with a present situation: "Have you sent the files?" means the same as, "Does the professor have the files now?"
    That doesn't make any sense at all to me. The sending of files and the receiving of those files by the intended recipient are two completely different things and are separated by a time interval. Whether the files were sent by computer or by mail or by courier, there are reasons the recipient might not (yet) have received them. Furthermore, the sender, who is the person being asked the question, likely doesn't know if the recipient received the files (yet). ("have the files now")
    And what if the professor did receive the files but then passed them on to someone else! In that scenario, the professor certainly would not "have the files now".
    "Did you send the files?" and "Have you sent the files?" both only ask about the act of sending. ("past action") They have nothing to do with the "present situation".

    Obviously there seems to be a difference between British and "American" English and that is unfortunate for English learners. Regardless of what kind of English is spoken, that English has to make sense and stand up to scrutiny. What rewboss said makes no sense to me, a person who is not British or American.

    The past simple ("Did you send the files?") refers only to the action itself, and has no connection with the present at all.

    With something as abstract as computer files, the difference is not clear, but consider this pair of sentences:
    1..."the difference is not clear" ?? I thought you just disagreed with me for saying that the meanings were the same!
    2...It doesn't matter what kind of files.

    I wrote a letter.
    I have written a letter.

    The first sentence simply means that at some time in the past, I wrote a letter. Without any other context, it's not possible to say anything more than that. I think that applies to both sentences.

    The second sentence means that right now, there exists in my possession a completed letter, ready to be posted. The focus is on the result of the writing, not the writing itself. I disagree.

    Back to the original question, and in cases like this, where you are asking if somebody has recently performed a certain action, you can choose which tense you prefer to use. American speakers will prefer the past simple, while British speakers will usually use the present perfect.

    Generally, if the connection with the present is clear from the context, or is made clear by a word like "already" or "just", Americans will use the past simple: But now you are suggesting that the meanings are the same.

    I just sent it. (American English)
    I've just sent it. (British English)
    2006

  8. #8
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    Rewboss is right when he says that it is one of the greatest stumbling blocks for ESLs. But I have to agree with 2006 that his explanation was a little, hmmmmm, ... well, not perfectly clear.

    Rewboss: The present perfect ("Have you sent the files?") is used to connect a past action with a present situation: "Have you sent the files?" means the same as, "Does the professor have the files now?"
    2006: "Did you send the files?" and "Have you sent the files?" both only ask about the act of sending. ("past action") They have nothing to do with the "present situation".
    Of course, "Did you send the files?" connects this particular issue to the present as does the Present Perfect. The difference is that using the PP adds a degree of importance to a finished action; "Moooom, she's taken my sweater aaaaaagain!!

    it's used for "hot news" - The Prime Minister has been shot.

    it's used for greater formality/to be more polite/more deferential, though this would hardly be noticed among close associates. - Yes, I've sent the files.

    All illustrate that using the PP adds a measure of importance to a finished action that just isn't there with the simple past.
    Last edited by riverkid; 24-Nov-2007 at 04:49.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    Well, riverkid, you're Canadian, so your use of the present perfect reflects North American usage. And Americans do tend to reserve the present perfect to convey a sense of urgency. Generally, British speakers use the present perfect a lot more frequently than North American speakers.

    So in British English, if there is any connection between past action and present state of affairs, even without a sense of urgency, the present perfect is usually preferred.

    To British ears, the question "Did you send the files?" is usually reserved for recounting past events, such as when telling somebody an anecdote:

    "So I prepared all the files, but it was all a waste of time."
    "But did you send the files?"
    "Yes, but then the professor said he didn't need them after all."

    While the present perfect is used when a present state of affairs is referred to:

    "OK, I think we're ready to leave now."
    "Have you sent the files?" (Meaning: Are you sure there is no more to be done now, before we can leave?)
    "Yes: the files are on their way to the professor right now."

    An American would most likely use the past simple for this question, as it's clear from the context that the question relates to the present without needing a special tense.

    In British English, the present simple does not imply any greater formality, or any sense of urgency.

  10. #10
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Did you send vs. Have you sent?

    Quote Originally Posted by rewboss View Post
    Well, riverkid, you're Canadian, so your use of the present perfect reflects North American usage. And Americans do tend to reserve the present perfect to convey a sense of urgency. Generally, British speakers use the present perfect a lot more frequently than North American speakers.

    So in British English, if there is any connection between past action and present state of affairs, even without a sense of urgency, the present perfect is usually preferred.

    To British ears, the question "Did you send the files?" is usually reserved for recounting past events, such as when telling somebody an anecdote:

    A: "So I prepared all the files, but it was all a waste of time."
    B: "But did you send the files?"
    A: "Yes, but then the professor said he didn't need them after all."

    This would be the same for NaE; recounting an older story/anecdote would cause the simple past to be used.

    But even within this scenario, I can see where the PP could be used. Imagine that person B had written some derogatory remarks about the professor within the written text. For NaE, that could generate a PP, "But have you sent the files?" because the past action has become important to now, important to person B.


    While the present perfect is used when a present state of affairs is referred to:

    "OK, I think we're ready to leave now."
    "Have you sent the files?" (Meaning: Are you sure there is no more to be done now, before we can leave?)
    "Yes: the files are on their way to the professor right now."

    An American would most likely use the past simple for this question, as it's clear from the context that the question relates to the present without needing a special tense.

    I wouldn't say, necessarily, "most likely", though there is a greater tendency towards the more casual simple past. It's much more difficult to determine what a NaE speaker would do because the choice is much more open than in a BrE sense. There could be a number of factors that could influence which is used.

    In British English, the present simple does not imply any greater formality, or any sense of urgency.


    Now that's much closer to perfection, Rewboss. Except, did you mean to say "present simple", blued above?

    Of course, mine was also less than perfect as I failed to note the differences for BrE. I've read // I read somewhere that this aspect of the PP is changing in BrE, influenced as it is by NaE. I note that Rewboss mentioned that the PP is "usually preferred".

    If it's not too much trouble, I'd really like to hear more from Rewboss and other speakers of BrE on this issue.

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