Sue
When to use “ have done” or “ did” ? I’m so confused.. 1.“He flew back to the pond where he had been born.” ( ugly duckling) -Why isn’t it “ where he was born”? It seems make more sense. 2.” I spoke to him already.” ( from an English exam) - Why isn’t it “ I have spoken to him already”? It seems make more sense. It confuses me so much when to use “ have” or not. It’s so strange and so difficult to understand!!>.<
Oct 14, 2018 8:30 AM
Answers · 12
These are two good questions, Sue. I can understand your confusion. 1. It is possible to say 'was born' here, but the past perfect is more accurate. Here's why: If you say 'He flew back to the pond where he.......', and the next clause is also in the past simple, we would assume that this second event occurred AFTER the first. For example 'He flew back to the pond, where he met his family again and lived happily ever after' . (It's a non-defining clause now). If you use the past perfect, however, it makes it clear that this event happened some time BEFORE the event referred to in the first clause. 2. This is wrong in British English, but acceptable in American English.
October 14, 2018
if you talk about (or are thinking about) a specific time, you use the simple past - it's NOT important how long ago it was. It's to talk about something in the past. Did you see the lightning? (we know it was just a moment ago) or did you go to college (we know it was many years ago) Did you call your girlfriend? (you said you were going to) The PRESENT perfect is to focus on the present - the present situation is different now (because of something that happened): Oh no, I've forgotten my phone! John has broke up with his girlfriend (good news for you)! Have you had lunch (any time up to now)? Are you still working? Most people have finished already.. so, basically, it is used to link something that happened to the idea that NOW something is different. EXCEPT: when talking about states/continuing actions, it means UNTIL NOW: How long have you been in the UK? I've known him for 5 years. I've been studying English for 10 years. Try to make a few examples and I'll check them for you. :)
October 14, 2018
Upvote for Keith. As Keith says, the choice between present perfect ( have/has done) and past simple ( did) does NOT depend on how long ago the event happened.
October 14, 2018
Hi You need to use have or had when the incident happened a relatively short time ago. Eg I have already spoken to her means I spoke to her some time recently like yesterday or last month. However, I spoke to her about the matter ten years ago would be correct for a long period of time. The duck had been born implies that the story takes place not long after the birth of the duckling (ducklings are young duck). Good questions. Well done.
October 14, 2018
You're right about number 1, Ming.
October 14, 2018
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Sue
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language
English