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I have written a letter. I wrote a letter.

Do they mean the same thing or there is a difference?

If there is a difference then where should I use "have written" and "wrote"? (I'm also talking about every other verbs)

marked as duplicate by herisson, Edwin Ashworth, Community Jun 29 '17 at 16:26

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  • They can both refer to the same event, but they don't mean the same thing. The Perfect construction uses have, and it adds some meaning to the verb, in four possible ways, depending on the verbs and the context. I have written a letter would be any sense except Universal; which one depends on what you'd want to mean in context. – John Lawler Jun 29 '17 at 15:07
  • You should look up "(simple) past tense" and "perfect" in a grammar or English textbook. The usage is too complicated to explain completely in the space of an answer here; and there are tons of incomplete descriptions already written that you can find with a web search. – herisson Jun 29 '17 at 15:18

The tense and aspect are different. "Have written" is present perfect, whereas "wrote" is simple past. This website explains it pretty well.

Present Perfect refers to completed actions which endure to the present or whose effects are still relevant.

Use the past tense to indicate past events, prior conditions, or completed processes.

In these examples, you could say #1 and #3 whereas #2 and #4 are incorrect.

  1. I have written a letter. Would you like to review it?
  2. I wrote a letter. Would you like to review it?

  3. I wrote a letter yesterday.

  4. I have written a letter yesterday.
  • Hello, Jisu. Please check to see whether there are previous answers before giving one. The Present perfect for past action with present effect thread is one of several already presented on ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Jun 29 '17 at 16:15
  • 1
    Hello Edwin. In order to search for "Present perfect for past action with present effect" you would have to know that's the name of the difference you hear when people change between "wrote" and "have written". Since his question was "what is the difference?" he didn't know those terms to search for them. – user1274975 Jul 10 '18 at 19:37

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