Can we mix the present perfect and the simple past?

SwissJeremy

Senior Member
German-Swiss
I’d like to know if we can mix the present perfect and the simple past and if it’s natural.

I noticed that the present simple it’s often used for sentences with already.

I already finished it! But not for it negative opposite I haven’t finished it yet!

I think for questions both are common Did you finish it yet? Or Have you finished it yet?

So when I answer to Did you finished it yet? Can I say No I haven’t finished it yet!

And the other way around can I answer I already finished to the question Have you finished it

yet?

Did I tell you that I’ll get promoted? – No, you haven’t told me yet – Is this possible?

Did you eat yet? – No, I haven’t eaten yet – possible?

(by the way I’m just talking about US usage)
 
  • ausland

    Member
    English - American
    Yes, you will hear them both used together in the USA. Often, you'll hear incorrect combinations of tenses in the USA such as "Did he came" or "Have you ate" and as a native speaker, I can't imagine how this started.
     

    SwissJeremy

    Senior Member
    German-Swiss
    So it sounds totally natural to respond in the other tense (SP to PP or PP to SP)?

    Also it it true that you prefer the present perfect for negative statment whereas you prefer simple past for positives? Because I found that as an explanation how to use the present perfect:

    We often use the Present Perfect to say that an action which we expected has not happened. Using the Present Perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action to happen.

    Examples:
    • James has not finished his homework yet.
    • Susan hasn't mastered Japanese, but she can communicate.
    • Bill has still not arrived.
    • The rain hasn't stopped.
     

    ausland

    Member
    English - American
    When mixing tenses in spoken conversation, yes you will often hear something like: "Did you finish your homework? No, I haven't finished it." However, the response determines the implied meaning. If the answer would have been, "No I didn't finish it." this would mean that you are no longer working on the homework. The first answer with PP means you are still working on it. So in short, the answer depends on what you mean. This is why the tenses can be combined because if someone asks you a question using a tense that doesn't allow you to answser accurately, you must switch tenses to form your answer.

    • James has not finished his homework yet.
    • James did not finish his homework yet. (Sounds a little strange because of yet)
    • Susan hasn't mastered Japanese, but she can communicate.
    • Susan didn't master Japanese, but she can communicate. (Happened in the past)
    • Bill has still not arrived. (Bill is on the way)
    • Bill didn't arrive. (In the past)
    • The rain hasn't stopped.
    • The rain didn't stop. (past)
     

    SwissJeremy

    Senior Member
    German-Swiss
    You wrote: James did not finish his homework yet. (Sounds a little strange because of yet) Does it sound strange because it’s negative or would it for you also to be weird if it’s positive like: “Did you eat yet?”
     

    ausland

    Member
    English - American
    Jeremy, I think you're probably hearing colloquial English spoken and it's confusing your knowledge of grammar.

    "Did you eat yet" in the USA sounds more like "Didyaeat yet?" which is simply easy to say compared to "Have you eaten yet." American English speakers tend to enunciate their words less, thereby choosing the most comfortable way to pronounce certain phrases. Of course, this isn't true 100% of the time. Americans also tend not to open their mouths very much when their speak which creates this typical rhotic sounding accent.
     

    SwissJeremy

    Senior Member
    German-Swiss
    So in colloquial American English “I didn’t eat yet” and “He didn’t finish it yet” are absolutely okay?
     

    ausland

    Member
    English - American
    Yes.

    It does sound a little uneducated, however. For example, I might say it while speaking with a group of friends but during a business meeting, I would probably use the correct form. This is a really subtle thing, so I'm glad to see that you're noticing such things. Your English must be fairly fluent. I would guess that many Americans don't know how to use these forms properly.

    The USA is an interesting place linguistically speaking. In fact, many of the accents and dialects here are directly descended from the influences of immigrants and their respective languages (German, Italian, Yiddish, Scottish, Irish). Sometimes this historical influence creates these strangely constructed phrases in the USA.
     

    SwissJeremy

    Senior Member
    German-Swiss
    One more question: Is it appropriate to say: “has he gotten up yet” or “has he woken up yet” “Has he fallen asleep yet” for me all sound quite odd. I’d rather use “did he get up yet” “Did he wake up yet” or “Did he fall asleep yet” What’s your opinion on these?
     

    ausland

    Member
    English - American
    Again, this is a US/Brit colloquial difference. Technically, the "did" construction isn't correct but Americans with moderate to poor grammar would definitely say it. I guess it all depends on who you are speaking to.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    One more question: Is it appropriate to say: “has he gotten up yet” :tick:or “has he woken up yet” :tick:“Has he fallen asleep yet” :tick:for me all sound quite odd.
    I’d rather use “did he get up yet”:cross: “Did he wake up yet”:cross: or “Did he fall asleep yet”:cross: What’s your opinion on these?

    In standard English, yet is a marker word for use of the present perfect.

    The did forms are certainly common in US speech, but they are not standard English.

    Lots of US [and not just US] speakers say things like "You done real good", but that's not standard English either.
     

    ausland

    Member
    English - American
    Yes, this is all true. I think the issue here is that Jeremy's English is beginning to be affected by colloquialisms which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he's advancing to a more native-like speaker but on the other hand, native speakers aren't always the best examples of proper speech and grammar. I'm from the south USA which is known for it's distinctive dialect....seldom proper I might add.
     

    losvedir

    Senior Member
    English - California
    I already finished it! But not for it negative opposite I haven’t finished it yet!
    Both sound natural to me.

    I think for questions both are common Did you finish it yet? Or Have you
    finished it yet?

    Again, both sound fine to me.

    So when I answer to Did you finished it yet? Can I say No I haven’t finished it yet!

    Sure, although it should be "did you finish".

    And the other way around can I answer I already finished to the question Have you finished it yet?

    This one sounds a little weird to me, for some reason. I think it's the "already" that sounds weird, since that sounds to me like the other person is expecting you to not have finished. But since he's asking, he has no expectations. But "I finished" sounds fine as a response to "Have you finished it yet?"

    Did I tell you that I’ll get promoted? – No, you haven’t told me yet – Is this possible?

    Sounds great to me.

    Did you eat yet? – No, I haven’t eaten yet – possible?

    Definitely. My roommate and I do this all the time.
     

    SwissJeremy

    Senior Member
    German-Swiss
    Thanks a lot! So what about the negative answers is it also common(in informal usage) to say: No, I didn't eat yet! or No, I didn't finish yet! ? Or is that concidered incorrect?
     
    Last edited:

    losvedir

    Senior Member
    English - California
    Thanks a lot! So what about the negative answers is it also common(in informal usage) to say: No, I didn't eat yet! or No, I didn't finish yet! ? Or is that concidered incorrect?

    Hmmm, "Have you eaten yet?" "No, I didn't eat yet." This seems much less comfortable to my tongue than the other way around. I think part of the reason "did you verb" works for me, is that I say (and read) it as "djya verb", which might have a different set of grammar associations in my head than "did you".

    For what it's worth, I can see the following situation: A bunch of people are sitting down at a restaurant and one person's meal doesn't come. Everyone else finishes and then someone says, "Okay, let's go!" The person whose meal never came may object: "Hey, I didn't eat yet!"

    But that's kind of a contrived scenario to get "I didn't eat yet" to sound natural to me. It definitely wouldn't work as an ordinary response to the question "Have you eaten yet?"
     

    ausland

    Member
    English - American
    Actually, the answers in the negative would most typically be:

    Have you eaten yet?
    Yes, I have.
    No, I haven't.

    Did you eat?
    Yes, I did.
    No I didn't.
     
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