If I say:

"I read the book." or "I watched the film."

Does it mean that I read the entire book or that I watched the entire film?

If it does, how should I say to emphasise that I started reading the book or watching the film but haven't finished the entire book or film yet? Will this help: "I was reading the book." "I was watching the film."?

If it doesn't, how should I say that I read the entire book or that I watched the entire film? Will this help: "I've read the book." "I've watched the film."?

Thank you for the opportunity to ask questions and get answers.

  • Thanks for contributing! If you're learning English, English Language Learners will be a better place for the kinds of questions that learners face. Dec 15, 2021 at 23:07
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    "I'm reading the book" will often be understood to mean "I am part way through reading it", even though you are not actually reading at this moment - because we don't usually read a whole book at one sitting. This doesn't apply so much to films, although with modern technology it is of course possible to watch part of a film and save the rest for later. Dec 16, 2021 at 9:07
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    It means you watched enough of the film or read enough of the book to make that claim. You know enough to make conversation on the subject.
    – Robusto
    Dec 16, 2021 at 14:59
  • According to your words, if somebody asks me "What did you do yesterday?" I can reply with "I read the books" even though I didn't finish them yesterday? Dec 24, 2021 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


Yes, the simple "I read the book" usually implies finishing it. There's enough ambiguity in the usage, though, to enable some intentional duplicity:

"I know you need to read To Kill A Mockingbird for English class. Did you read it today?"
"Yeah, I read the book."
"Great, what did you think of the ending?"
"Wellll.... I read the book, like, I read some of it, but I didn't finish it...

This would generally be seen as a misuse. However, you could add a qualifier like a time span that might shift the received meaning to non-completion:

I read the book for two hours today.
I might have been bored on the plane, but I read my book.

But no, shifting from simple past to past perfect does nothing to influence a sense of completion, for any task I can think of ("I fixed/have fixed the car," "I cooked/have cooked dinner"), though continuous tenses certainly can ("I'm reading the book").


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