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While having a conversation, my friend said 'I almost completed...', but when I heard that line, it sounded to me like 'I nearly did something, which I should not have done, and thank god for that' although what he actually meant was he had little work left to do then. Am I missing something? Or is 'I almost completed...' grammatically incorrect?

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I almost completed

Indicates an action in the past, which you were doing, and is all gone now. So you say "I almost completed the running race, but had to stop half-way through."

I have almost completed

Means something is still ongoing, and you expect to finish soon. "I have almost completed the race, there are only 500m to go."

(The tense names give these two away - "almost completed" is past tense, "have almost completed" is present perfect.)

  • This is exactly what I thought. I almost completed implies that it's final (and will always be incomplete); I have almost completed implies that you're still working on it. – Jason Bassford Jul 18 at 21:36
  • I get you, but what I meant was: Can "I almost did something" imply "I almost got into a mess by doing something"? Its fine if you don't understand me, its because I'm trying to match the sentences using 'almost' with how I can use it in my language to mean the later sentence. But if you can help that would be great! – user354974 Jul 19 at 7:20
  • You can certainly use it that way, as in, for example, "I almost fell down a hole today" (but I didn't) or "I almost ate all my friend's chocolates, but thought I'd get in trouble, so I didn't" -- if you say "I have almost eaten all my friend's chocolates" that would mean that you have started eating them and have now pretty much eaten all of them (although this phrase is not one that one would normally/naturally use, it's just for a fictional example). – queste Jul 19 at 22:45

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