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    #1

    drank and have drunk

    Dear teachers

    I understand that the present perfect tense is used when there is no time mentioned. But why is it in the following sentence, the simple past is used?

    "What's wrong with you?" "I drank some poison and now I think I'm dying." Shouldn't it be "I have drunk some poison" because the speaker did not mention the time to the listener.

    Thank you.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: drank and have drunk

    While you cannot use the present perfect with a specific time reference in the past, you don't have to use a specific time reference with the simple past.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #3

    Re: drank and have drunk

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    While you cannot use the present perfect with a specific time reference in the past, you don't have to use a specific time reference with the simple past.
    So, do you mean, I can use either the present perfect or the past in this case? Would it sound funny to use have drunk in AmE? Is it true the British tend to use more present perfect tense sentences than the Americans?

    Thank you.

  2. Leandro-Z's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: drank and have drunk

    Quote Originally Posted by SophiaM View Post
    So, do you mean, I can use either the present perfect or the past in this case? Would it sound funny to use have drunk in AmE? Is it true the British tend to use more present perfect tense sentences than the Americans?

    Thank you.
    It would be okay if you use either Present Perfect or Past Simple in that case.
    Using wether the Present Perfect or the Past Simple depends on the person`s own preferences.

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    #5

    Re: drank and have drunk

    Quote Originally Posted by SophiaM View Post
    Is it true the British tend to use more present perfect tense sentences than the Americans?
    I think it's only true when the Brits talk about something that has happened very recently. For instance, someone from the U.K would probably ask you:"What have you just said?" instead of "What did you just say?" like somebody from the U.S would.

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    #6

    Re: drank and have drunk

    Quote Originally Posted by meobeo View Post
    ... someone from the U.K would probably ask you:"What have you just said?" instead of "What did you just say?" like somebody from the U.S would.
    Not so, meobeo.

    Referring to the original question, if I thought I might have drunk poison, I wouldn't be all that concerned about syntax.

    Rover

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    #7

    Re: drank and have drunk

    Quote Originally Posted by Rover_KE View Post
    Not so, meobeo.
    Oh, no? That's strange because that's what I read from the book "English grammar in use" published by Cambridge Univesity Press. There is always a gap between what's written in books and reality, I guess. So, in your experience, it all depends on each one's style of speaking and preference?

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    #8

    Re: drank and have drunk

    I can honestly say that I don't ever remember having uttered "What have you just said?" I would always use "What did you just say?"

    And as far as the original is concerned, the past simple sounds very natural there too.

    You look a little uncomfortable. Why?
    I ate too much [at lunch/dinner].

    What happened to your foot?
    I stepped on a piece of broken glass.

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