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  1. Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    #1

    Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    I was just thinking, which of these two sentences is correct:

    I just phoned him.

    or

    I have just phoned him.

    To me, both seem fine, because in a sense, "just" implies a time, but it's not very specific. It seems as if I have encountered both.
    I did a little research, and I came across this site ( Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple ), which states something rather interesting:

    Note that the following explanations and exercises refer to British English only. In American English, you can normally use Simple Past instead of Present Perfect. We cannot accept this in our exercises, however, as this would lead to confusions amongst those who have to learn the differences.
    Is this really true? Is AmE more flexible? So, are both sentences correct in AmE?

    Thank you.

  2. CarloSsS's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    NOT A TEACHER

    It is exactly as you are saying. "I just phoned him." would rarely (if ever) be uttered by a British person, but it is very common in AmE. "I have just phoned him." is used in AmE too. I think that it is widely known fact that AmE is a bit more flexible and less strict as far as English grammar is concerned. Btw. that is one of the reasons why I prefer it and try to use this variation of English.
    Last edited by CarloSsS; 08-Jun-2012 at 01:17.
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

  3. Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    Thanks. This then probably explains why some Americans respond to the following question, using a seemingly incorrect tense:

    A: Have you seen this movie?
    B: No, I didn't see that one.

    The simple past tense is used, even though the time isn't specified. I hear this quite a lot among speakers of AmE.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    I'm surprised you say hear that quite a bit.

    When someone uses present perfect in a question, we almost automatically reply in present perfect.
    And most of us wouldn't say "I didn't see that one" uness 1) the opportunity to see it no longer exists, in which case "Have you see this movie?" would be an odd question, or 2) We'd already discussed a specific movie-going activity in the past, in which case the person would probably have used past simple as well.

    One of the definite differences is "Eww! I just stepped in someone's gum" which I understand our British friends would not say, using "I've just stepped" instead.
    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: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    Plenty of BrE speakers would say I just phoned him. We may use the present perfect more with just, but it's overstating things to say we don't use the simple past too IMO.

  5. CarloSsS's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Plenty of BrE speakers would say I just phoned him. We may use the present perfect more with just, but it's overstating things to say we don't use the simple past too IMO.
    But would be using past simple considered correct in such situations (with "just") as far as BrE grammar is concerned?
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

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    #7

    Re: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    It depends on the sentence and context, but this one sounds fine to me.

  6. CarloSsS's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    How about the following sentence? Is it also acceptable in BrE?

    Did you take out the rubbish yet?

    As far as I know, the vast majority of BrE course books says that this is not acceptable in BrE and so is not the sentence "I just phoned him". However, I must add that while Swan's PEU supports what I said, Swan also points out that BrE is changing under the influence of AmE and these structures are becoming more common in BrE.
    Last edited by CarloSsS; 08-Jun-2012 at 19:23.
    Please note that I'm not a teacher.

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    #9

    Re: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    That would be a question asked by a minority of BrE speakers, but not unheard of, though most of the people I can think of who would use it are Irish living in the UK. That one is more likely to be unacceptable to many BrE speakers.

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    #10

    Re: Simple Past vs. Present Perfect Simple

    What is unacceptable about it? Should it be "have you taken out..."?

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