Possible Duplicate:
When is the present perfect tense used instead of the past tense?
When will “Present Perfect vs. Past Tense” cases be affected by culture?

I feel like I often misuse Simple Past and Present Perfect.

For example, given this sentence:

I already asked her.

Asking her is something I have done... but it's also something I did. So would it be more correct to use Present Perfect, as in:

I have already asked her.

Or are they interchangeable?

  • We have an entire tag dedicated to this. (Sadly with a rather non-descript name due to space constraints.)
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 26, 2012 at 15:11

2 Answers 2


"I already asked her" is in simple past tense, indicating that the event occurred in the past.

"I have already asked her" is in present perfect tense and is used in situations where a past event has relevance to the current situation.

These get used interchangeably, but if you want to be exactly correct, it depends on the context of your sentence.

For example, if you are talking to someone who is questioning whether or not you did something, you would use the present perfect tense because the past event is relevant to your conversation. If you are just telling someone about the past event, then you would use simple past tense.

  • Very clair and helpful explanation. thank you !
    – smarber
    Jan 10 at 12:54

I don't think there's enough context to definitively answer your question. Both are grammatically correct, but one form may be better than the other in a specific context.

If your asking her was the final event in a series of events, then the simple past seems more appropriate than the present perfect.

If you plan to ask her again, or if you plan to have someone else ask her for you, then the present perfect seems more appropriate because present perfect implies a continuing saga.

Provide sufficient context and you might get a more satisfying answer to your question. It's potentially an interesting question. I'm interested in what everyone else thinks about when to use the simple past versus the present perfect. I have my own ideas, but even though I don't know what everyone else thinks, I know that what I think isn't necessarily what everyone else thinks.

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