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  1. #1
    Enchanter is offline Newbie
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    Present Perfect or Present Simple

    Consider this sentence please:

    _________________ (you, start) working just 8 minutes ago?

    1) Did you start
    2) Have you started

    I'm not a native speaker but I would say in AmE only 1 is natural while in BrE both are correct because, even though 8 minutes ago is an exact point-in-time expression, which normally requires past simple, the word just makes it somewhat connected with the present and the context also implies the activity is still in progress, so again connected with the present and a reason to use present perfect.

    Am I thinking right? Thank you.
    Last edited by Enchanter; 16-Jun-2017 at 18:25.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    "Have you started working" doesn't work in BrE because of the use of "just 8 minutes ago" at the end.

    Did you start working just/only eight minutes ago?
    Have you started working just/only eight minutes ago?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. #3
    Enchanter is offline Newbie
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    So if just modifies the verb, present perfect is correct?

    If so, what would the word order be? Thanks.

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    Enchanter is offline Newbie
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Yes. Have you just started working?
    Yes, but I meant if used together with 8 minutes ago.

    Have you just started working 8 minutes ago?
    Correct?

  5. #5
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    The problem for me here is that not even the 'more correct' past simple sentence sounds very natural. I'm struggling to find the meaning. Who might say this to whom, and to what effect?

    If there's a sense of surprise, or perhaps anger, then you could say

    Did you only just start (working) eight minutes ago?

  6. #6
    Enchanter is offline Newbie
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    The problem for me here is that not even the 'more correct' past simple sentence sounds very natural. I'm struggling to find the meaning. Who might say this to whom, and to what effect?

    If there's a sense of surprise, or perhaps anger, then you could say

    Did you only just start (working) eight minutes ago?
    So even if just modifies the verb, present perfect is incorrect when used with the ago expression?

  7. #7
    jutfrank's Avatar
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Enchanter View Post
    So even if just modifies the verb, present perfect is incorrect when used with the ago expression?
    Well, it doesn't sound too bad to me. It sounds like something that someone could say so I'm reluctant to call it incorrect just yet. Could you say what the question actually means to you? Why the need for the time phrase?

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    Enchanter is offline Newbie
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Well, it doesn't sound too bad to me. It sounds like something that someone could say so I'm reluctant to call it incorrect just yet. Could you say what the question actually means to you? Why the need for the time phrase?
    The question was meant to be more general. I wasn't asking about that specific phrase, really. Rather about the underlying rules. Let me rephrase my question:

    Is it possible in BrE to use present perfect in a natural sentence that is set in time by an ago expression? (Apart from something with since, e.g. I haven't been to that city since two years ago.)

  9. #9
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Enchanter View Post
    The question was meant to be more general. I wasn't asking about that specific phrase, really. Rather about the underlying rules. Let me rephrase my question:

    Is it possible in BrE to use present perfect in a natural sentence that is set in time by an ago expression?
    Is it usual? By no means. It is possible? Maybe, but I'm just trying to be charitable here. In any case, it's a good idea to say that as a rule, we don't do it.

  10. #10
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    Re: Present Perfect or Present Simple

    Quote Originally Posted by Enchanter View Post
    Is it possible in BrE to use present perfect in a natural sentence that is set in time by an ago expression? (Apart from something with since, e.g. I haven't been to that city since two years ago.)
    I don't know how it was possible that I missed your example here. (Maybe you've added it since my last post.)

    Yes, this is exactly the kind of structure that I was considering as an example. Although I wouldn't want to say that it's incorrect, it's much, much more natural to say ...for two years.

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