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This link states that:

When you use the present perfect tense you have to be talking about a period of time that you still consider to be going on. For example, if it’s still morning, you can say, "I’ve shaved this morning." If it is afternoon or evening, all of a sudden "I’ve shaved this morning" sounds really weird.

"I've shaved this morning" sounds more like past perfect, and indication of specific time (in the morning) makes this sentence incorrect. Am I spot on?

Then what is the difference between the construct of past perfect, present perfect and future perfect?

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    The link is correct. Past perfect would be I had shaved that morning. I don't think you'd ever say I had shaved this morning or I have shaved that morning, because that would be using past perfect for the present or present perfect for the past. May 17, 2011 at 12:32
  • please explain the down-vote? Please re-read the question. I'm looking for a very specific distinction in perfect verb tenses. May 17, 2011 at 12:36
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    Possible duplicate of How do the tenses in English correspond temporally to one another?, Present perfect tense versus past tense, and a ton of others. "The difference between construct of past perfect and present perfect and future perfect" is explained here.
    – RegDwigнt
    May 17, 2011 at 12:49
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    "I have read your letter this morning" is not wrong.
    – Kosmonaut
    May 17, 2011 at 13:22
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    MaxB. I am the author of the page you link to in your bounty-setting notice above. The page was written for ESL students in their first or second year of learning English. Hence the explanations and examples are simple. The present perfect is a very complex topic. It is excellently explained in a canonical post on the English Language Learner site at ell.stackexchange.com/questions/13255/…
    – Shoe
    Aug 10, 2020 at 8:02

1 Answer 1

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+100

"I've shaved this morning" has the verb in present perfect tense ("I've shaved"). "I'd shaved that morning when my friend walked in" would be past perfect ("I'd shaved"). As the link states, using the present perfect is fine with a specific time like "this morning" as long as it is still the morning.

Present perfect is used when an action begun in the past has a connection to the present. There can be many different ways to connect an action to the present.

  • The action can still be ongoing: "I've worked out for 40 minutes, and I'm going to keep going for another 20 minutes".

  • The action can be completed right around the present time: "I've finished my cup of coffee, so let's go out."

  • You can express if you have ever done something in your life (or some timeframe) up until now: "I've flown a plane before; I did it once 10 years ago."

As you can see, there is no singular rule that says "this type of time expression will always be right/wrong with present perfect". You just have to have a connection to the present.

So, applying this more specifically to your concerns:

  • "I've shaved this morning" when it is the morning = correct
  • "I've shaved this morning" when it is the evening = incorrect
  • "I've shaved in the morning" = incorrect if you do not intend any connection to the present, but correct if your meaning is "in my life up to now, I have shaved in the morning at least once".

In summary, the sentence is not incorrect, and the construction is, in fact, the present perfect.

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  • it might be worth clarifying, in the first paragraph, that present and past refer to the auxiliary verb (have/had), not the main verb, which uses its past participle in both cases. May 17, 2011 at 15:33
  • @Steve Melnikoff: Actually, it is the entire construction, i.e. auxiliary verb + main verb, that comprises present/past perfect tense.
    – Kosmonaut
    May 17, 2011 at 16:20
  • I didn't explain that very well. What I meant is, the difference between the two forms is determined by the tense of the auxiliary verb. Hence why I thought it might be an idea to emphasise that. May 17, 2011 at 19:09
  • Present and Past are the tenses. The only tenses. Perfect is the name of a construction using some form of have followed immediately by the Past Participle form of the verb. Put them together you get Present tense Perfect construction (and Past tense Perfect construction). There is also the Progressive construction using some form of be followed immediately by the Present Participle (the -ing form) of the verb. And there is the Passive construction, using a form of be followed immediately by the Past Participle of the verb -- and with the object promoted to subject. Aug 9, 2020 at 19:24

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