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When reporting an action that's just taken place, would it be okay to use simple present and present perfect?

She wishes to buy some clothes, so I've placed an order for her.

I feel like I should talk like the above sentence, but would it be more grammatically correct to say "She wished to buy some clothes, so I've placed an order for her"? But I want to convey that she just wished to buy some clothes and that I placed the order soon after.

Edit: Okay, how about this? Let's say that I'm writing an email to the merchant AS I'm placing the order because he/she is one of those merchants who only take email orders. Then will my above example make sense?

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This is interesting. While both simple present and simple past look correct in this context, the use of simple past looks a bit passive (not in the grammatical sense of 'passive') though. So I would go with simple present. But let's wait and see what the experts here have to say. –  Elzee Mar 19 '13 at 4:22

3 Answers 3

This isn't an issue of grammar at all. We don't have a tense that implies the immediacy of the past at that granular a level. If it happened five minutes ago or five seconds ago, we could easily say both:

"It occurred"

or

"It has occurred"

and, with further contextualization, be correct in our wording.

It sounds like what you want to express is how quickly you responded to a person's wish. In which case, you would need to express that through other means. An adverbial phrase, for example, could work:

Not 30 seconds after she told me how she longed for that blouse, I clicked "purchase" on Amazon.com.

This post provides a good reference to the way tenses compare temporally. You'll see that there is no tense that refers specifically to the immediate past as you've described it. Both past simple and past perfect can do this job, but, as I've said, more context is needed to focus our attention on the moment and, more importantly, the immediate reaction.

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The actions happened in the past, they should be reported as such:

She wished to buy some clothing. So I placed an order for her.

Presumably your order has fulfilled her wish and she no longer desires to buy some clothing, so using "she wishes" at this point in the narrative is incorrect. She was wishing then, she is not now. If she is wishing now, even after you placed the order then you would say:

She still wishes to buy some clothing. So I will place another order for her.

In your question you state that you wish to convey the idea that this has just recently happened. To do that use just:

She wanted to buy some clothing. So I just placed an order for her.
or
So I placed an order for her just now.

Having said that, (and mostly as an aside) there are certain authors who do write whole stories in present tense. This seemed awkward and unnatural to me at first. But in that case, both sentences would be in the present.

She wishes to buy some clothes. So I place an order for her.

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The sentence "She wished to buy some clothes, so I have placed an order for her." seems to be more appropriate than the first one.

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