Can a question in the simple past be answered with present perfect? For instance, if someone said

I bought some milk five hours ago."

could I answer

Where have you put it?

I know I can use the simple past here, but could I use the present perfect here as well if I'm interested in where the milk is now?

  • Yes............................ (And in British English the present perfect might be the preferred form.) Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 20:31
  • But using the perfect present doesn't stress where it is now. If you want to do that, use the simple present, where is it? Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 20:33
  • @Clare I'd say present perfect stresses the need to know the present whereabouts equally, without sounding as abrupt as the present. Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 21:28
  • Possible duplicate of Interplay of tenses Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Sure you can. Very keen of you to notice the momemtary feeling of non-sequitur that results as we are so used to parroting the question in the answer. People also sometimes use that technique as a subtle way to correct another's grammar, as I am sure you have also noticed!

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.