I have been making this mistake for a long time, and gradually I realized that the reason why I make this mistake is to avoid ambiguity. "Have you done something?" sounds like a question asking one if they have finished something. But what I want to ask is whether they have spent time doing something or whether they have tried to do something.

It seems that a constructional distinction is needed, just like "be going to" has been gradually developed into "be going to" and "be gonna" which are in different uses.

It is not only me that use this construction. There are also a plenty of cases on the internet.

My questions are:

1 Is it only a mistake L2 speakers use? or do native English speakers use the construction as well?

2 If the construction exists among native speakers, to what extent does it spread to other verbs other than "do"?

3 If the construction exists among native speakers, to what extent does it spread to other kinds of sentences? such as a declarative sentence "I have do something".

  • 1
    As a native (US) speaker, I've never heard of it. If anyone said that, I would have to ask what he meant.
    – Maverick
    Apr 27 at 15:30
  • 2
    I haven't heard of "be going to" or "be gonna" distinctions either. What region/dialect is that?
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Apr 27 at 15:31
  • 2
    Do you mean you want Have you been doing something? And what do you mean that "be going to" has been gradually developed into "be going to"? Apr 27 at 15:42
  • There are several constructions with have plus an infinitive; one is causative (I had him rotate my tires). But I don't understand what this supposed construction is sposta mean, and I've never heard it. Apr 27 at 15:44
  • I assume an example of 'Have you done something?' is 'Have you done your homework?'. That makes an example of 'Have you do something?': 'Have you do your homework?' Outlandish. Apr 27 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Your construction is correct. The tense which represents the case which you are looking for is present perfect. The reason it's not confused with the question of whether someone had completed their action is because that is represented by the past perfect tense. E.g.

Have you tried working out?

Is present perfect. Represents the case you are looking for (notice usage of have).

Had you eaten?

Is past perfect and askes whether they have eaten in the past and finished (notice usage of had, but not exclusive to usages of had).

I don't imagine this is something that is always clear in speech in native speakers though so they may still ask for clarification since there are all a lot of educational differences between English speaking countries.

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