English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

This question already has an answer here:

When would one say "she has found her keys" as opposed to "she found her keys"? Are they equivalent, or at least partially equivalent? I'm not a native speaker and have been unable to find a pattern regarding the use of "have" in this context.

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Jon Hanna, Barrie England, MετάEd, Noah, Kristina Lopez Feb 12 '13 at 18:49

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

Simple past "she found her keys" relates an event in the past. Present perfect "she has found her keys" describes an event in the past with an impact on the present (now she can drive...). Past perfect "she had found her keys" an event in the past that impacted on a later event in the past (then she could drive...). This may be more suited to ELL. – Jon Hanna Feb 12 '13 at 16:46
meta question for @JonHanna -- why did you write this as a comment instead of an answer? Seems pretty answery to me. – Alex Chaffee Feb 12 '13 at 19:57
@AlexChaffee it was going to be just a suggestion that it'd be better suited to ELL, and my helper instincts kicked in. – Jon Hanna Feb 12 '13 at 20:26
"helper instincts" -- perfectly understandable. I'm still getting the hang of etiquette here. – Alex Chaffee Feb 12 '13 at 21:14

She has found her keys means that she needed them and was actively looking for them. Maybe she couldn't get into her apartment, etc. There's a past action with a present result. In the second one, it means that she lost her keys sometimes in the past and wasn't really looking for them in an active way. So she found them, maybe yesterday maybe last week; and the action doesn't really matter in the present or maybe it does, but there's no active connection with the present.

share|improve this answer
There is nothing indicating intent in either choice. Either form could refer equally to tearing her house apart in a frantic search, finding them by chance after giving up hope for them, and so on. – Jon Hanna Feb 12 '13 at 17:31

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.