In CGEL p.144 the author says about experiential perfects

This use of the present perfect allows for the inclusion, under restrictive conditions, of a past time adjunct:

iia) We've already discussed it yesterday.

iib) We discussed it yesterday.

In [iia] the already indicates that I'm concerned with the occurrence of the situation of our discussing it within a time-span up to now and cancels the normally excluding effect of yesterday evident in [iib].

Then, how about the following sentence ?

1) I have already visited the museum when I was a university student.

I'm concerned with the occurrence of the situation of my visiting the museum within a time-span up to now. Does this cancel the normally excluding effect of when-clause and make 1) grammatical?

If so, why can't the following sentence be interpreted in the same way?

2) I have visited the museum many times when I was a university student.

I'm concerned with the multiple occurrences of the situation of my visiting the museum within a time-span up to now. I added the when-clause as an afterthought that it happened to be during my university years.

  • 3
    "Already cancels yesterday's excluding effect" Let me put it this way: Huh? Feb 9, 2016 at 5:04
  • Related question, Can “earlier this year” be used in the present perfect?. The first answer to this question could give you the answer. You will be surprised to see the second comment to the first answer.
    – user140086
    Feb 9, 2016 at 5:26
  • @CandiedOrange, so is this grammatical? : I have already visited the museum many times when I was a university student.
    – Aki
    Feb 9, 2016 at 6:43
  • 1
    In AmE, these all take past tense. No perfects. There used to be a rule in British English, that already required the perfect tense. I presume this rule, followed unthinkingly, is what justifies the use of the perfect tense in these sentences. Feb 9, 2016 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


To answer your question simply, your two examples are ungrammatical and also semantically incompatible internally. So is the the infamous example given on page 144 of CGEL. I know this is quite an assertion, so I will try to explain.

We need to invoke Reichenbach for this, specifically his primitives. Simply put, tenses can be seen as a relationship between the time of an event (E) and the time of speaking (S). In this simple model, the past is represented as E occurring before S; the present as E and S occurring together, and the future as S occurring before E. Reichenbach added an R, not for Reichenbach but for Reference, which is an imaginary time from which the speaker is viewing the event. In this model, the past is R and E coming before S (R,E__S), the present is R,E,and S occurring together (R,E,S), and the future is S coming before R and E (S__R,E). Perfect is defined as "E cannot be the same as R".

This gives us two models of perfect. E comes before S and R (E__S,R) which is sometimes called anterior present. This is 'the past viewed from the present' and covers the Experiential, Resultative, and Recent Past. R comes before S and E (R__S,E) is sometimes called posterior past and is 'from a past time until now'. This models the Universal perfect.

Applying this to We've already discussed it yesterday, we find that it is incoherent because we have already discussed it cannot have the event and reference point coinciding, while yesterday requires the reference and the event to coincide. For this reason, yesterday is semantically incompatible with We've already discussed it, because they have different relationships between event, reference, and time of speaking.

For an more in-depth explanation, see Modelling ‘the perfect’, a category between tense and aspect (pdf) by Anna Kibort (2009).

  • Yes, most people would benefit from thinking about time of speaking versus time of an event. "I have already explained this three times this week". :)
    – Lambie
    Jun 4, 2017 at 15:35

To really answer your question simply, 'We discussed it yesterday' communicates when the talk took place. 'We already discussed it yesterday' communicates unhappiness the topic is revisited. 'Already' modifies the meaning. If there's no reason to modify, 'already' is redundant.

[So are 'kind of' and 'for' in your original question. In my opinion, have/has/had receive too much use in such sentences, as well. The meaning doesn't change when you omit them.]

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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