Have you seen/Did you see my shoes in here

Do I have to say Did you see because it happened in a specific place?


Both of these are acceptable.

Reference to a specific place is irrelevant. I suspect you are thinking of the ‘rule’ in formal English governing time reference with the present perfect. This is often expressed in some such terms as this, from www.englishpage.com:

You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc. We CAN use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc. [emphasis mine]

This is imprecise. The ‘rule’ actually observed in formal practice is that you cannot locate the present perfect within a timespan which does not include the present. This is only indirectly a matter of specificity: locating an event at a specific point or timespan in the past such as yesterday or when I was a child excludes the present. But equally ‘specific’ time references which include the present, such as today or this year are perfectly acceptable:

okI have answered three questions today.

This rule arises because the present perfect, although it mentions a past eventuality, expresses a current state or situation which in some sense derives from that past eventuality: its ‘tense’, the time it is talking about, is present.


Saying "Have you seen my shoes in the closet?" has the same meaning as "Did you see my shoes in the closet?" The reference to a specific place is irrelevant.

However, saying Did you see is a more directed personal (accusatory) form of questioning than the alternative Have you seen.

  • You are right that in common speech these are often interchangeable, but one might, if one were being a smartass, answer the first one with,"Yes, I have, they are often in the closet. They're not there now of course, but I have seen them in there." – Jim Oct 25 '14 at 3:49
  • @Jim You are correct and thereby reinforcing my point that did you see is a more pointed form of questioning demanding a truthful answer. – Volubilis Oct 25 '14 at 6:19

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