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I've read this sentence on TIME:

  • But dozens of new cases have been confirmed in the last week.

and months ago read this on a questionaire;

  • Which have you used in the past?

Is it OK to use the present perfect 'tense' with a past time expression, 'in the last week' or 'in the past'?

  • Those examples are grammatical. – Lawrence May 14 '20 at 5:05
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Both in the last week and in the past indicate a period of time leading up to now. So they're not referring to a past time and are compatible with the present perfect.

Specifically, the former means "in the last seven days leading up to now".

One the other hand, last week would refer to a past time and be incompatible with the present perfect.

  • Yes, good point. But I always think of the criterion as being whether it is a specific past time. For example I can say "I have used it at some point in my life", or "I have used it in the past". But one cannot say "I have used it yesterday", nor even "I have used it half an hour ago" - at least not in English. Confusingly one can in French - and possibly other European languages, which may explain why non-native speakers frequently make the mistake. – WS2 May 14 '20 at 6:01
  • @WS2 Can you say, then, I have used it at some point in 2019.? – listeneva May 14 '20 at 6:13
  • Umm! I would definitely be comfortable with "I've used it at some point during the last year". But once you actually mention a specific date or time you really need the past tense. But you can say "I have used it at some stage since January 2019". – WS2 May 14 '20 at 6:36
  • @WS2 I don't think it's about the mentioned past time being specific or not. Note in the last week refers to a specific past time, and that so does the last year. The reason they're compatible with the present prefect is that they include the present time (i.e., now) whereas last week, yesterday, and half an hour ago don't. – listeneva May 14 '20 at 6:44
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    The more I think about it I believe you may be right. But you can say "I've used it before now". The problem with being a native speaker is that you never learn the rules, you just pick them up instinctively. – WS2 May 14 '20 at 7:02

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