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I’ve tried to help you.

The action happened in the past but I don’t say when.

I tried to help you yesterday.

The action happened in the past but I say when.

More Examples:

  1. You can use the account that you’ve already created.

  2. You can use the account that you already created.

  3. I’ve sent you an email. Please check your Inbox.

  4. I sent you an email. Please check your Inbox.

Question

  • Which is correct and which is not? I’m very confused!
  • Is there a simple rule to follow?
2

Both indicate an action that occurred (and was completed) in the past. The

In principle the perfect tense is used to indicate that an action or circumstance occurred earlier than the present time (or other time under consideration) and often focuses attention on the resulting state rather than on the occurrence itself. In your example

You can use the account that you’ve already created.

the emphasis is on the fact that you can now use the account because you have already created it in the past.

I've tried to help you... seems to wait for something more that is happening today.

I've tried to help you, but you are still making the same mistakes.

It is different than I tried to help you (...?) There is no expectation that it be tied to the present.

I tried to help you, but I could not.

  • Nice explanation :-) (& I'm still thinking about your 'All I had ...' deleted answer). – Edwin Ashworth Jan 23 '14 at 10:22
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    I think the semantics of the situation there makes the use of a parenthetical (with commas, especially) at best unwise. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 23 '14 at 11:09
  • @EdwinAshworth - yes, I agree. I saw the error of my ways when Barrie answered. – anongoodnurse Jan 23 '14 at 13:35
  • It's set me off exploring the allowable (whoever decides that!) uses of parentheticals. There's a work by Bolinger titled 'Intonation and Its Uses_Melody in...' available online, in which he examines many varieties of parentheticals, tying in the way they're spoken out loud. He uses an extremely fine toothcomb. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 23 '14 at 14:46

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