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    #1

    Present perfect

    Please look at two sentences below.

    I saw just him at the party/I have seen just him at the party.

    It seems to me that both varians are right. However the correct answer is "saw". Please explain to me the difference.

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    #2

    Re: Present perfect

    I'd like to ask about your use of "just" first.

    When you use "just" to refer to time, it means it happend moments ago.

    Despite multiple claims that Americans don't use the present perfect, I assure you that we do -- however, I have found that the use of "just" is one example when we do seem to use it differently than our other English-speaking friends.

    I would say "I just saw him." [Note where I have put "just."]
    Based on other threads here, I believe British speakers would say "I have just seen him."

    Your position of "just" is different. He is the only person you saw - you saw "just him, and him alone."
    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: Present perfect

    Thank you. In otherwords, we cannot say (based on my example and following your arguments) I have seen only (in the meaning of "just)" him at the party. I thought that Present Perfect tends to be often interchangeable with Simple Past where the context and markers (like just, already, like) are used. Am I right? For me, the both sentences appear of "equal value" if the context is missed or there is marker like just (not in the meaning of "only"). Please explain me further. Thank you.

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    #4

    Re: Present perfect

    They are not interchangeable, but there are times when either could be used.

    Oh no! I've just gotten a run in my stocking.
    Oh no! I just got a run in my stocking.

    Would you like join me for lunch?
    I would have loved to, but I've already eaten my lunch.
    I woud have loved to, but I already ate my lunch.
    (Though I would lean toward the "have eaten" myself, I wouldn't find anything odd about "ate.")

    Whenever you have a specific past point in time, you need to use simple past, however. It could be that the person who wrote "at the party" consides that a specific past time. If the party was last night, then "saw" is the correct choice. If it's still going on and you're talking to me in the parking lot outside, then "have seen" is okay.


    .
    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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    #5

    Re: Present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by olegv View Post
    Thank you. In otherwords, we cannot say (based on my example and following your arguments) I have seen only (in the meaning of "just)" him at the party. I thought that Present Perfect tends to be often interchangeable with Simple Past where the context and markers (like just, already, like) are used. Am I right? For me, the both sentences appear of "equal value" if the context is missed or there is marker like just (not in the meaning of "only"). Please explain me further. Thank you.
    In your example just is not being used to give an indication of the time, so has no effect on the choice of tense- it's modifying him, not the verb.

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    #6

    Re: Present perfect

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    In your example just is not being used to give an indication of the time, so has no effect on the choice of tense- it's modifying him, not the verb.
    Thank you for your opinion. Do you mean in general terms that we can use either present perfect or simple past if there is no context given and there are no markers of the present perfect or simple past. I would agree with Barb_D that "at the party" could be seen as the simple past as one option. I think that it would be easier from the speaker's perspective who knows that context even if he or she does not expressly say about it. For a reader of the sentences, it is very hardly or even impossible to catch the simple past or present perfect if there is no context or markers is given. Am I right? Many thanks.

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    #7

    Re: Present perfect

    Not quite. You use the present perfect when it relates to a present situation in some way, when it has some connection to what you're talking about. You also use the present perfect if it's on-going, continuting up to now, or has a chance of happening again.

    You and I are driving past a restaurant. We're thinking about where to go for dinner.
    - I've eaten there. (It relates to our current discussion.)

    You and I are driving past a building that used to house a restaurant.
    - I ate there. (There's no chance of eating there again.)
    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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    #8

    Re: Present perfect

    Thank you for your clarification.

    Please note, however, that what I still do not understand is that

    There are two sentences in a test. No context or any dialogue is given. No markers of either present perfect or simple past are given.

    Given that, can I say that there are no preferences between them (I saw just him at the party/I have seen just him at the party)? In other words, the situation is neautral to chose either 1 or the second i.e. If there is a dialogue, it would be clear since there is a specific situation. Thank you for your further explanation.

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    #9

    Re: Present perfect

    Can you confirm that the actual test question had "just him" with the "just" immediately for "him." If so, it's really impossible to say what the right answer is, whether the party is a past event or still going on.

    If the "just" was being used as a time marker, it's an indicator to use present perfect for British English.
    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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