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Have you now spoken to him?

I really heard that from someone.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There really is nothing wrong with it grammatically. But the context makes a difference on how apt it is.

Have you now spoken to him?

The now implicitly indicates that there was a then. In other words, this is a continuation of a previous conversation (in most cases) where you perhaps mentioned that you wanted to speak to "him" or tried to speak to him and failed. The now questions whether you have been successful in speaking to him at this point in time.

A better example could be in a speech:

Today, I will be speaking to you on [Subject A], [Subject B], and [Subject C]. [Subject A] is a complex ...

... and a few hours later

I have now spoken to you about [Subject A]. Moving on to [Subject B] ...

A variant of this usage could be somebody else situated elsewhere noting:

He must have finished with [Subject A] by now.

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In one particular context, the handy pattern is:

Have you spoken to him yet?

"Yet" is an adverb that means "so far" or "up until now."

I suppose what you heard might have been an alteration of:

Have you just spoken to him?

Have you (just now) spoken to him?


Some people, non-native speakers, also tend to mistakenly substitute "already" in the first example:

Have you already spoken to him?

which means a completely different thing.

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-1 I don't know where you got that "prescribed expression" business from. There can be contexts where using "yet" in this way might be considered impatient, chiding, even "disrepectful". Both forms are perfectly acceptable phrasing, and in any given context there may be no discernible difference, or either might be preferred over the other. –  FumbleFingers Jul 21 '12 at 15:05
    
Like you said @FumbleFingers, it actually depends on the context –  Cool Elf Jul 21 '12 at 15:32
    
Exactly. I'll remove the downvote if you remove the word "prescribed" from your text, but OP hasn't given enough context to say whether one or the other is even to be preferred, let alone "the only correct version". –  FumbleFingers Jul 21 '12 at 15:41
    
I will. Thanks. I always forget that using a word like that will come across as very authoritarian and dogmatic. It's an old habit I have from dealing with basic learners who keep on saying: "Have you already p.p.?" –  Cool Elf Jul 21 '12 at 15:55
    
thank you very much –  seturyo Jul 23 '12 at 3:09
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It's true that on average, "Have you now [done X]?" will be preferred over "Have you [done X] yet?", so non-native speakers who don't have a firm grasp of the distinction would be safest sticking to the former.

It's also true that in many contexts there's no meaningful distinction - so again, you may as well use the more common form.

Of course, there's no requirement to use either "temporal qualifier" - at the bare semantic level, "Have you [done something]?" is all you need to say.

But if "now" or "yet" is included, it emphasises the "temporal context". In the case of "now", obviously the focus is on whether the present time includes the attribute X has been done. With "yet" (or the alternative phrasing "Did you [do X]"), the focus is more on whether or not you did X at some point in the past.

In some contexts therefore, OP's usage of "now" can be seen as "deferential" and/or "confirmatory" in that it's more about objectively assessing the current situation, rather than subjectively judging the other person on the basis of whether he's got around to doing something the speaker expected (or indeed, required) him to do.

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thank you very much –  seturyo Jul 23 '12 at 3:05
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