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  1. #1
    Steven D's Avatar
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    Default Present Perfect & the Simple Past: a question for studen

    This is a question for English language learners (ELL).


    1. Did you speak to Joe today?

    2. Have you spoken to Joe today?


    Can you say why a speaker would say either one of these sentences?

    Why would someone say number 1?

    Why would someone say number 2?

    Can you provide a context for the questions?

  2. #2
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    Both work. I would use the first if there is no opportunity to speak to Joe anymore (the day is over, or we know he will be unavailable etc.), otherwise I would use the second.

    -- Did you speak to Joe today?
    -- No, I was too busy.
    -- Come on, he will be on business trip for two weeks, and you couldn't find a minute to clear up that point!

    -- Have you spoken to Joe today?
    -- Not yet, I'll catch him this afternoon first thing.

    FRC

  3. #3
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    Both work. I would use the first if there is no opportunity to speak to Joe anymore (the day is over, or we know he will be unavailable etc.), otherwise I would use the second. <<

    That's the key.

    - good examples too.

    I'll be back to this thread later.

    Maybe we can think of an example or a context in which both the present perfect and the simple past work?


    :D

    Until then..........

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    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    Maybe we can think of some examples in which both the present perfect and the simple past work?

    :D
    What are your thoughts on question formation?

    Have you eaten yet?
    Did you eat yet?

    Have you seen it yet?
    Did you see it yet?

    All the best, :D

  5. #5
    Steven D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    Maybe we can think of some examples in which both the present perfect and the simple past work?

    :D
    What are your thoughts on question formation?

    Have you eaten yet?
    Did you eat yet?

    Have you seen it yet?
    Did you see it yet?

    All the best, :D

    Sometimes "yet" is used with the simple past in AE. And that's okay with me. The type of questions you posted are rather common language here.

    I think Murphy gives "yet" with the simple past the "okay" in Grammar in Use, if I remember correctly. That would be the AE version, of course.

    I would avoid it for certain types of formal or serious writing, however.

    :D

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    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    Sometimes "yet" is used with the simple past in AE. And that's okay with me. The type of questions you posted are rather common language here.

    I think Murphy gives "yet" with the simple past the "okay" in Grammar in Use, if I remember correctly. That would be the AE version, of course.

    I would avoid for certain types of formal or serious writing, however.

    :D
    Thanks. :D

    As for whether you feel they (i.e., the questions Have/Did) differ in meaning, what are your thoughts? :D

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    Steven D's Avatar
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    As for whether you feel they (i.e., the questions Have/Did) differ in meaning, what are your thoughts? <<<<

    The grammatical form in this case could indicate a difference in meaning, but in such a context where the simple past is used with "yet", I don't think there would be any intended difference in meaning on the part of the speaker.

    I would just say that, as usual, the simple past indicates a complete action, while the present perfect indicates "up until now".

    Did you eat yet. - emphasis on a completed action

    Have you eaten yet - emphasis on "at any time up until now" starting from a time when one would be expected to eat

    They're really the same.

    Despite how "yet" is defined, I have no problem with it being used with the simple past. Perhaps it's time to expand the definition of "yet" in American English?

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    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    1. Did you eat yet. - emphasis on a completed action

    2. Have you eaten yet - emphasis on "at any time up until now" starting from a time when one would be expected to eat

    They're really the same.
    Thanks. :D

    I agree with your definitions, but I'm a bit confused by 'really the same'. Given that Have...eaten is aspectual and Did...eat tense, how are 1. and 2. 'really the same'? That is, if the speaker knows (i.e., intuitively/innately) that a difference exists between the two (e.g., use "Have you eaten? when you don't know when one is expected to eat and use "Did you eat?" when you do know when one is expected to eat), how are they 'really the same'?

    Just my thoughts.

    All the best, :D

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    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    1. Did you eat yet. - emphasis on a completed action

    2. Have you eaten yet - emphasis on "at any time up until now" starting from a time when one would be expected to eat

    They're really the same.
    Thanks. :D

    I agree with your definitions, but I'm a bit confused by 'really the same'. Given that Have...eaten is aspectual and Did...eat tense, how are 1. and 2. 'really the same'? That is, if the speaker knows (i.e., intuitively/innately) that a difference exists between the two (e.g., use "Have you eaten? when you don't know when one is expected to eat and use "Did you eat?" when you do know when one is expected to eat), how are they 'really the same'?

    Just my thoughts.

    All the best, :D
    One is aspectual yes. However, by asking this question and answering this question we find out whether or not someone ate or did not eat.

    I have eaten, yes. I ate, yes. In this context both are completed actions. The "up until now" meaning of the present perfect is rather insignificant in this particular context - in this particular case.

    To me, that it is aspectual, I believe is, irrelavant. The same information is communicated. The practical meaning is the same - in this case.

    Personally, I try not to analyze too much when it comes to grammar. I simply prefer to understand and be able to explain it.

    To me, it's pretty simple. On occasion AE might use the simple present where BE would always use the present perfect. It can happen here and there, though not as often as some would like to believe it does - as I see it.

    :D 8) :D 8)

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    (e.g., use "Have you eaten? when you don't know when one is expected to eat and use "Did you eat?" when you do know when one is expected to eat), how are they 'really the same'? <<

    I don't believe that one would know when one is expected to eat simply by using the simple past.

    I also believe it's possible to know when one is expected to eat by using the present perfect.

    I don't believe the verb system is that restrictive.


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