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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    present perfect vs. past simple

    Hello everybody,
    I was reading english literature when I bumped into this dialogue:

    "You must thank him." said he.

    "I already did it." explained the boy.

    and here comes a problem. At school I was thaght that with "already" a present perfect time is usually used. My question therefore is: what is the difference between answers
    "I already did it"
    and
    "Ive already done it" ?
    Which of them is better ?

    Thanks in advance.


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    #2

    Re: present perfect vs. past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by mikko4 View Post
    Hello everybody,
    I was reading english literature when I bumped into this dialogue:

    "You must thank him." said he.

    "I already did it." explained the boy.

    and here comes a problem. At school I was thaght that with "already" a present perfect time is usually used. My question therefore is: what is the difference between answers
    "I already did it"
    and
    "Ive already done it" ?
    Which of them is better ?

    Thanks in advance.
    It must be an American author. The Americans use the past simple where the British use the present perfect except for:

    -a situation that is still true e.g. "I have always liked John." Here the Americans would use the present perfect because if they used the past simple (I always liked John), it would imply that I didn't like John any more or else that John was dead. (This last distinction is based on my own theory; I don't think you'll find it in a grammar book.)

    If you are studying English for an exam, it would be better to stick to the British use of the present perfect. If not, obviously the American use is much easier to put into practice.
    Last edited by naomimalan; 06-Apr-2008 at 16:35.

  2. banderas's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: present perfect vs. past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by mikko4 View Post
    "I already did it"
    and
    "Ive already done it" ?
    Which of them is better ?

    Thanks in advance.
    There is no "better or worse" answer. Typical time phrases always used with the present perfect in British English but often used with the past simple in American English.
    To me, "I already did it" is more casual.

    It is like with "do you have a car" and
    "Have you got a car".
    Which one is better? Both are fine.


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    #4

    Re: present perfect vs. past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by banderas View Post
    There is no "better or worse" answer. Typical time phrases always used with the present perfect in British English but often used with the past simple in American English.
    To me, "I already did it" is more casual.

    It is like with "do you have a car" and
    "Have you got a car".
    Which one is better? Both are fine.
    My apologies Banderas. I posted my previous message two minutes after you posted yours. So I didn't see that half my explanation had already been dealt with by you.

  3. banderas's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: present perfect vs. past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by naomimalan View Post
    My apologies Banderas. I posted my previous message two minutes after you posted yours. So I didn't see that half my explanation had already been dealt with by you.
    my fault, your first reply was posted five minutes before mine. We must have been typing at tyhe same time. The good thing is the asking person will be 100% sure as two people state the same.


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    #6

    Re: present perfect vs. past simple

    Quote Originally Posted by banderas View Post
    my fault, your first reply was posted five minutes before mine. We must have been typing at tyhe same time. The good thing is the asking person will be 100% sure as two people state the same.
    Actually, I deleted my second post because I had posted the same twice over by mistake. I deleted it before seeing your message above. Anyway, the main thing is: no hard feelings.

  4. Junior Member
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    #7

    Re: present perfect vs. past simple

    Thank you guys. I think I understand it now.

    ...and it really was an american writer


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    #8

    Re: present perfect vs. past simple

    I'd say that for this particular situation, there is a greater tendency for the use of the present perfect for BrE and a greater tendency for NaE to use the past simple. But that doesn't preclude one or the other for either "dialect".

    Certainly, for NaE, when a speaker feels that the event has some importance/current relevance, the present perfect could see use.

    I think that the operative word is "usually". A exact phrase google, UK pages only, gives us this:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 26,300 for "already done it".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 4,840 for "already did it".

    Perhaps because the words just and already hint at some degree of importance/current relevance, there is a greater tendency for BrE speakers to favor the PP.

    For NaE, this is a hard thing to determine because, short of reviewing every such collocation to see how "important" the situation was, we still come up against the fact that not all view situations alike and the ultimate choice, obviously, is the speaker's. Only that person can decide what to choose, the PP or the PS because what is being expressed are the thoughts of that speaker.
    Last edited by riverkid; 07-Apr-2008 at 00:03.

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