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I have forgotten or forgot in this case???

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Amber_1010, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. Amber_1010 Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Hello everyone!

    I have read similar posts but I'm still not sure about one thing about the use of present perfect and past tense.
    Let me put it in an example to clarify what I mean. Does it have to be a 'result' or 'effect' on now if we are using the present perfect?

    Suppose I'm in a class and we are having a lesson, the teacher reminded us over and over again to bring our calculator today. But I realise I didn't bring it and I don't the calulator so I say to my friend "Oh my god! I forgot to bring my calculator! / I have forgotten to bring my calculator."
    - I understand we can use either past or present perfect tense in this case, depending on our style.

    But what if the day ends and I go back to home and my mom asks me how my day went so I say to her, "I have forgotten to bring my calculator!"
    - Is that idiomatic? I'm not sure whether people would use the present perfect here (Because now I'm home and not having a calculator does not affect me anymore). I think using past tense here is more common, even in BE.

    I hope you know what I am asking. If not, please tell me.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2013
  2. Amber_1010 Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    I'm thinking whether it has something to do with the time. I think the thing has to be recent if we want to use the present perfect. Like:

    If I'm injured because my neighbour hit me with his car a month ago. But I'm still injured and recovering. But cousin just came to my town to visit me, he doesn't know anything about the accident and wonders why I have a broken arm. So I say "My neighbor hit me with his car."
    - I don't think saying "Has hit me" would be natural here, even though it has a 'effect' on now, but the accident happened a month ago, that is not recent.

    And what if I'm walking in the hallway and a classmate of my comes up to me and slaps me in my face, and he runs away without saying a word. I'm too shock to react. It's 9:00 am in the morning. So, when it is lunchtime and I see him in the cafeteria, I say to me "You slapped me. What did you do that for?"
    - Again, I think we don't use present prefect (Have slapped, what have you done that for.) here, because it is not something that just happened, or very recently.

    Do you agree?
    Please comment!
  3. DonnyB

    DonnyB Senior Member

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Here's how I'd do them:
    1. "Oh my god! I've forgotten to bring my calculator." (perfect)
    2. "I forgot to take my calculator!" (take rather than bring because you're back home now)
    3. "My neighbour hit me with his car." (simple past)
    4. "You slapped me. What did you do that for?" (both simple past)

    You possibly have a choice of tense in sentence 1, but I don't think you do in any of the others.
  4. bennymix

    bennymix Senior Member

    Ontario, Canada. I grew up in US.
    English (American).
    I agree with Donny B, mostly; I prefer the simple past for 1.

    As for this 'rule':
    There are two directions, here: Rule A: If there is an effect or result in the present, use the present perfect. NO. As your examples show.
    Rule B: If one sees present perfect being used, there is some effect or result in the present that's involved." NO.

    What is the 'rule'? Something like, B* "If the pres. pft is used, it generally indicates that a past action is of present relevance--possibly for the reason that it's continuing up to the present**."

    As to the validity of A* : "If one is talking about a past action that is of present relevance--possibly for the reason that it's continuing up to the present**-- then it is desirable to use the present perfect." Doubtful.

    This is too strong, possibly substitute A** ... then it may be, in some cases, desirable to use the present perfect.

    **Or, 'its effects are continuing up to the present'
  5. Cenzontle

    Cenzontle Senior Member

    English, U.S.
    Hi, Amber,
    I agree with your conjectures in each case.
    I agree with DonnyB (#3) about 2, 3, and 4—only the simple past, and I think it's because of the reasons that you mentioned (or have mentioned?:)):
    the event may still have relevance to the present, but it's not "recent" (however that's defined).
    For your number 1, most people who I know would say "I forgot to...".
    The present perfect is grammatical also, but it sounds a bit literary to me.
    I'm not prepared to try to state a rule, but I think you have summed up the reasoning well.
  6. mmafan67 Junior Member

    English- American
    First case: You would never say "I have forgotten my calculator" in this situation, unless you were making light of the fact to show off you're lack of need for the calculator. For example, "Oh my! It seems I have forgotten my calculator! What ever shall I do??"---all the while exaggerating your tone.
    Second case: While it is true that the event happened earlier in the day and it's no longer affecting you, you still would say "I forgot my calculator"

    - Alex
  7. Amber_1010 Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Thank you very much everyone :)

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