Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Possible Duplicate:
When is the present perfect tense used instead of the past tense?
When will “Present Perfect vs. Past Tense” cases be affected by culture?

I feel like I often misuse Simple Past and Present Perfect.

For example, given this sentence:

I already asked her.

Asking her is something I have done... but it's also something I did. So would it be more correct to use Present Perfect, as in:

I have already asked her.

Or are they interchangeable?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by Lynn, Robusto, Barrie England, RegDwigнt Nov 26 '12 at 15:10

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
We have an entire tag dedicated to this. (Sadly with a rather non-descript name due to space constraints.) –  RegDwigнt Nov 26 '12 at 15:11
1  
@RegDwighт Was not aware... Thanks! –  Growler Nov 26 '12 at 15:15

2 Answers 2

"I already asked her" is in simple past tense, indicating that the event occurred in the past.

"I have already asked her" is in present perfect tense and is used in situations where a past event has relevance to the current situation.

These get used interchangeably, but if you want to be exactly correct, it depends on the context of your sentence.

For example, if you are talking to someone who is questioning whether or not you did something, you would use the present perfect tense because the past event is relevant to your conversation. If you are just telling someone about the past event, then you would use simple past tense.

share|improve this answer

I don't think there's enough context to definitively answer your question. Both are grammatically correct, but one form may be better than the other in a specific context.

If your asking her was the final event in a series of events, then the simple past seems more appropriate than the present perfect.

If you plan to ask her again, or if you plan to have someone else ask her for you, then the present perfect seems more appropriate because present perfect implies a continuing saga.

Provide sufficient context and you might get a more satisfying answer to your question. It's potentially an interesting question. I'm interested in what everyone else thinks about when to use the simple past versus the present perfect. I have my own ideas, but even though I don't know what everyone else thinks, I know that what I think isn't necessarily what everyone else thinks.

share|improve this answer

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