Present Perfect (PP) or Past Simple (PS) We have a disagreement with my friend. We were talking about music, and my friend mentioned a song 'The Whistler' by Jethro Tull, then I said, 'Yes, a good song! But I've never tried to translate its lyrics.' It was the first time when we talked about lyrics translation. My friend said, 'In this case you should add 'before' or something like that if you want to say it in Present Perfect. You should say, 'I've never tried to translate its lyrics before.' [PP] Or you should say, 'I never tried to translate its lyrics.' [PS] Or you should have mentioned earlier that you are talking about this moment.' We had a long discussion about it, but still we haven't come to an agreement. Another example withouth any context. Which one(s) is/are correct: 1) I haven't read Hamlet. 2) I didn't read Hamlet. 3) I'm almost old, and I haven't read Hamlet yet. What would you say about choosing the right tense? We are interested in a formal answer from the point of view by English grammar.
Sep 14, 2018 9:42 PM
Answers · 5
This question comes up about once a week. The simple past is used for a completed action in the past at a known moment (stated or understood). The present perfect is used for a completed action at an unknown or unspecified moment during a period ending at the present time. There are some slight differences between British and North American usage.
September 15, 2018
To be honest, having a "before" in those kinds of sentences or not doesnt change its meaning all that much. The "haven't", "didn't", etc. already implies that something hasnt been done before, along with the "never". If you want to add the "before" you can as it isnt grammatically incorrect, but most people want to avoid redundancies in both speaking and writing. Hope this helps somewhat.
September 14, 2018
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