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    #1

    past simple or present perfect?

    When someone returns from a party,shopping etc. do we ask them

    1 Did you have fun?
    or
    Have you had fun?

    2 Have you bought bread?
    or
    Did you buy bread?

    3 Have you bought anything?
    or
    Did you buy anything?




    What about the following sentence?

    His good looks helped him become an actor.
    His good looks have helped him become an actor.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970
    #2

    Re: past simple or present perfect?

    1a. Did you have fun?
    => The fun started and ended with the party, shopping, and so on.
    1b. Have you had fun?
    => Between then and now.

    2a. Have you bought bread?
    => Between then and now.
    2b. Did you buy bread?
    => Then.
    2c. Have you bought anything?
    => Between then and now.
    2d. Did you buy anything?
    => Then.

    3a. His good looks helped him become an actor.
    => Then, not now.
    3b. His good looks have helped him become an actor.
    => Then and now.

    Hope that helps.

  2. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #3

    Re: past simple or present perfect?

    In the "actor" example, the past simple would imply that the actor is now dead, or at least retired, while the present perfect would imply that the actor is still alive and still acting.

    In the "bought anything" example, the present perfect implies that we expect the people to have the things they bought with them; the past simple doesn't imply that. In the situation you describe -- people returning from a shopping trip -- we could actually use either here; "Did you buy anything [while you were shopping]?" vs. "Have you bought anything [and if so, can you bring it into the kitchen]?" Americans would normally use the past simple here.

    • Member Info
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    #4

    Question Re: past simple or present perfect?

    1a. Did you have fun?
    => The fun started and ended with the party, shopping, and so on.
    1b. Have you had fun?
    => Between then and now.
    And what about "Have you been having fun?" This present perfect continuous is sometimes confusing. It is said that one should use it when the action hasn't been finished. So, if this is the case, 1b would indicate "Have you had fun (and don't have now)?" Are my considerations clear? This issue confuses me sometimes.

    Or, maybe a better example,
    "His good looks have been helping him in his career." -- there is a difference between this sentence and the following: "His good looks have helped him in his career."

    Thanks,
    Nyggus


    • Join Date: Jun 2006
    • Posts: 5
    #5

    Re: past simple or present perfect?

    Yeah, but it can really depond on who is speaking, or better, where the speaker is from. I'm english, so i use the present perfect whereas the north american teachers i work with rarely use it; they only really use it when talking about experience i.e. Have you ever tried sushi?

  3. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #6

    Re: past simple or present perfect?

    There are cases where you can choose between the present perfect and the present perfect continuous, and it makes little or no difference. For example:

    A: Where do you live?
    B: In London.
    A: And how long have you lived/been living there?

    The present perfect means that there is some connection between the past and the present, while the present perfect continuous describes an action or a process that began in the past and continues into the present (and may continue into the future). In the example above, it makes no difference between the connection with the present is the fact that B still lives in London.

    But sometimes it does make a difference:

    I have been cooking dinner all afternoon and I am still not finished!
    I have cooked dinner -- just open a bottle of wine and I'll serve the food.

    We have been painting the ceiling for the past hour. We should be finished before lunch.
    We have painted the ceiling. Don't you think it looks nice?

    In both these examples, the present perfect continuous indicates that the action is still in progress; the present perfect indicates that the action is complete, but we are talking about the results of the actions, which are in the present.

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    #7

    Question Re: past simple or present perfect?

    Hi, Rewboss.
    Then, is there a difference between "Have you been having fun?" and "Have you had fun?"? I feel there is, although in spoken language one can understand the meaning of the latter from the context. (Then, our discussion would have a theoretical meaning, wouldn't it?)

    Best,
    Nyggus

  4. rewboss's Avatar

    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 1,552
    #8

    Re: past simple or present perfect?

    There's very little difference, but if the "having fun" as an action is definitely over, you can't use the continuous. If the "having fun" is definitely going to continue into the future, the continuous is the better choice. But if it is likely that the "having fun" is just now coming to an end, you can use either.

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