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meta: I asked this question yesterday but it was marked as a duplicate of a previous question. But none of the answers to the previous question answered what I wanted to know. So I deleted that question and added this new one with some additional details to make it more specific.


Is the following conversation correct?

A: You will need to finish the report before you leave for the day.
B: I already did it yesterday.

I am not asking whether already can be used with past simple as opposed to present perfect. From what I know, we cannot use present perfect tense when time is mentioned and here we are mentioning the time of action. What I want to know is whether already can be used with past simple where time is mentioned. For example:

A: You will need to file your taxes before the end of this month.
B: I already filed my taxes two months ago.

The second speaker in both of these cases wants to a. emphasize that the action has already been completed, and b. mention when it was completed. If this is incorrect, is there any other way to achieve the same effect?

  • I would not use already with a simple past, with or without an explicit time marker. I have however heard it often from American sources, and I think it is becoming more common in British English as well. – Colin Fine Dec 7 '13 at 14:48
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Yes, already can be used with the past simple where time is mentioned. Already is one of the time adjuncts (along with recently, once, before, this morning, and others) of which the Cambridge Grammar of English (p615) states:

Some time adjuncts can be used with either the present perfect or the past simple depending upon the speaker's/writer's perspective.

With this group of adjuncts, if the events are considered as happening at a definite point in the past, then the past simple is used.

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According to thefreedictionary.com

already adv 1. by or before a stated or implied time he is already here

  1. at a time earlier than expected, i*s it ten o'clock already?*

With a specified time period, it is not ungrammatical but perhaps not an example of the best in English:

I have already finished the report.

I have already filed my taxes.

The two months ago and yesterday is unnecessary information, but most certainly acceptable in everyday speech.

There are also 'event' related cases where already paired with an action or an occurrence is used:

"I had already left by the time the bus reached."

  • I did not refer to any source but even if have it not expressed, it is implied with 'already'. – Gurpreet K Sekhon Dec 7 '13 at 8:03

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