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    #1

    'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    In American English, it is acceptable in informal speech, but in British English, it is still not used as common as in American English.
    `
    Do you (native British English speakers) accept those?
    `
    I just said (that) they're...
    I already said (that) they're...
    I just told you.
    I already told you.
    (the 'just''s here do not mean 'only')

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    Your four examples are acceptable in BE.

    What's not acceptable (although having said that, I noticed my daughter using it today, so I guess it's on the way to becoming mainstream mid-Atlantic English) is "just" with the past simple in a present perfect application: AmE "I just ate"/BE "I've just eaten".

    b


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    #3

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Your four examples are acceptable in BE.
    What's not acceptable (although having said that, I noticed my daughter using it today, so I guess it's on the way to becoming mainstream mid-Atlantic English) is "just" with the past simple in a present perfect application: AmE "I just ate"/BE "I've just eaten".
    b
    It's not acceptable because 'just' in this context IMPLIES the present perfect tense. Look at the original poster's examples, and you will see they are all the correct forms for present perfect, using the correct past participle.

    "I just ate" does NOT use the past participle of 'to eat'. Therefore, it is WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    It's not acceptable because 'just' in this context IMPLIES the present perfect tense. Look at the original poster's examples, and you will see they are all the correct forms for present perfect, using the correct past participle.

    "I just ate" does NOT use the past participle of 'to eat'. Therefore, it is WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
    Easy, lad. I agree with you about formal English (but only based on tradition). In informal English, I see no important difference between "I just ate" (wrong in your view) and I ate ten minutes ago (correct in your view, I assume). Both are actions completed in the past and neither extends into the present any more than the other.

    Your British ear expects the present perfect in many cases in which an American ear does not. That's just the way it is.

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    #5

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    RE: BrE vs AmE

    I've been reading a lot of Bill Bryson recently and I'm quite amazed at the extent of the differences (and how they came about).

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    #6

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    Quote Originally Posted by Red5 View Post
    RE: BrE vs AmE

    I've been reading a lot of Bill Bryson recently and I'm quite amazed at the extent of the differences (and how they came about).
    It is amazing, isn't it? Before I started with your forums, I thought the differences were few and minor. Now I know better.


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    #7

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    Easy, lad. I agree with you about formal English (but only based on tradition). In informal English, I see no important difference between "I just ate" (wrong in your view) and I ate ten minutes ago (correct in your view, I assume). Both are actions completed in the past and neither extends into the present any more than the other.

    Your British ear expects the present perfect in many cases in which an American ear does not. That's just the way it is.
    It's many years since I was called a 'lad', so my mood has improved no end . Apologies if I sounded a little intemperate...

    I agree with you to an extent, but if I might defend my particular position here:

    My take on the present perfect is not that the action should extend into the present (which would be present perfect continuous), but that my REPORT describes a present event.

    "I have just eaten" - my eating has finished, but the finishing has just occurred, in the present.

    "I ate" - I could have eaten at any time, maybe last week.

    These are not trivial distinctions. They are crucial to the whole idea of tense. If you are prepared to abandon "I've just eaten" to "I've just ate", then you may as well say that there is no need for a distinction between imperfect and present perfect at all.

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    Quote Originally Posted by Coffa View Post
    It's many years since I was called a 'lad', so my mood has improved no end . Apologies if I sounded a little intemperate...
    Not intemperate, just excited.

    I agree with you to an extent, but if I might defend my particular position here:

    My take on the present perfect is not that the action should extend into the present (which would be present perfect continuous), but that my REPORT describes a present event.
    But that's the rub. It is not a present event. It is completed action -- by definition. Recent completeion, yes, but how recent is recent? The only answer I have ever been able to come up for that one is recent enough for the speaker to feel that the action is still related to his present. That will vary. "I have eaten" may be minutes to hours, but "I have broken my arm" may be minutes to weeks.

    "I have just eaten" - my eating has finished, but the finishing has just occurred, in the present.
    The same can be said for "just ate". I ate in the very recent past.

    "I ate" - I could have eaten at any time, maybe last week.
    Yes. I am not discounting all uses of the present perfect. But "just ate" could not mean last week. That is my point. Insisting on the present perfect there is like insisting on the past perfect when adverbs have already established the time sequence. It is fine, but no longer necessary.

    These are not trivial distinctions. They are crucial to the whole idea of tense. If you are prepared to abandon "I've just eaten" to "I've just ate", then you may as well say that there is no need for a distinction between imperfect and present perfect at all.
    In many cases, there is no distinction. The meaning that is transmitted is exactly the same.

    Would you like a sandwich?

    I've just eaten.
    I just ate.

    What is the difference?

    There are, of course, many other situations in which the simple past will not substitute for the present perfect. With the ones that, at least IMO, overlap, a BE speaker is more likely to choose the present perfect and an AE speaker is more likely to choose the simple past.

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    #9

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    As a footnote to the AmE/BrE question:

    For standard BrE usage, there are contexts where the simple past tense + "just" is not unusual, e.g. where a narrative is presented as a series of past events:

    1. You're not going to believe this; but I just went out to the garage and found a man there dressed as Jesus playing a xylophone with a pair of chicken drumsticks.

    2. I just called the AOL helpdesk. They said no, they had no idea what the problem could be. Had I tried rebooting? Yes, I said. In that case, had I tried reinstalling the AOL software? Only about 30 times, I said. {cut}

    Of course, the present perfect would also be fine, in these examples, e.g.

    3. You're not going to believe this; but I've just been out to the garage, and there's a man sitting there dressed as Jesus...

    It seems to me that we might choose #1 for the deliberately dry relation of curious events, and #2 to give an impression of "immediacy".

    Where many native BrE-speakers would feel uncomfortable is in contexts where the focus is naturally on the present, e.g.

    4. "Do you want these chicken drumsticks?" "No, thanks, I've just eaten."

    It seems to me that (to the BrE ear) the present perfect in the response accords with the simple present in the question: the questioner puts a present focus on the "wanting", so the answerer puts a present focus on the "having just eaten".

    So it would be normal to hear "I just ate a chicken drumstick and..." in standard BrE; but unusual to hear "No, thank you, I just ate".

    MrP

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    #10

    Re: 'just' and 'already' with the simple past?

    Thanks. That was a good explanation, MrP.

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