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The context: A bunch of coworkers and I had lunch yesterday, let's call one of them E and one of them C. I know E and C have been acquainted for a long time, but I did not see them speak to each other at the lunch.

Today, I was speaking one-on-one with E and asked her "Have you spoken to C recently?". E's response was "I met her yesterday", in reference to the lunch.

As a native speaker, I feel like this is incorrect, but I do not have a way to explain to her why it is incorrect (she is non-native).

We had been talking about C's speech patterns, so I was asking whether she has paid attention to the way C speaks recently. E's response was sarcastic, but the sentence "I met her yesterday" in that context still seems awkward to me.

My best guess is that it's only weird because we were all at the lunch together, and it might make more sense to say "I met her yesterday" if perhaps I was not at the same lunch with them.

Am I correct in thinking that this usage is incorrect? If so, what's the reason?

  • I think it’s fine. “I’m going to meet her for lunch next week” turns into “I met her yesterday for lunch” after the fact. – Jim Jul 10 '16 at 7:17
  • It partly depends on what you meant by your question to E. Did you mean "Have you spoken to C since lunch yesterday?" Or "Did you speak to C at lunch yesterday?" It further depends on what E meant. Was she being evasive, hence admitting only "We met [and mind your own business whether we talked]"? Was she being sarcastic - "Yes, didn't you see us at lunch together? Of course we spoke!" – Chappo Jul 10 '16 at 8:50
  • @Chappo We were talking about C's speech patterns, so I was asking whether she has paid attention to the way C speaks recently. E's response was sarcastic, but the sentence "I met her yesterday" in that context still seems awkward to me. – Thermawrap Jul 10 '16 at 17:44
  • I know what you mean - without context, it could mean "I met her for the first time yesterday" instead of the intended "I was with her yesterday". But in context, I think it's a normal thing to say, local idiomatic practice notwithstanding. – Chappo Jul 11 '16 at 2:58
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Yes it can. The grammar and syntax leave the semantic sense uncertain, left to context.

It is not the more precise way of speaking you suggest, which would be to say "I met with her yesterday" - that "with" provides us with the extra common parlance (but not actually sufficient semantic accuracy!) needed to determine which of two senses is more likely even without added context. You could still choose to interpret that sentence as "I met with her yesterday (for the first time)."

To completely eliminate semantic uncertainty, it has to be an elocution more like "I reconnected with her yesterday" or something else which proactively enumerates the number of meetings which have occurred as being equal to or greater than one.

  • If the meeting was by chance it would be more common (in the US) to say something like "I ran into her yesterday". – Hot Licks Dec 8 '16 at 13:10

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