did receive, / have received the email. [present perfect]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Theo79, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. Theo79 New Member

    German
    Dear all,

    I am struggling the the use of the present perfect

    One such example is the word receive. When do I use „Did you receive the email?“ and „Have you received the email?“. In the same vein, I sometimes hear „I received the email“ or „I have received the email“

    When do I have to use the simple past?

    Thanks for your help.

    < Other question has its own thread.
    My wedding has been/was the best day [present perfect]
    Cagey,moderator>
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2018
  2. Uncle Jack

    Uncle Jack Senior Member

    Cumbria, UK
    British English
    Quite honestly it is not worth worrying which one is right in the examples you give, since either could be used with no difference in meaning and almost no difference in emphasis. The choice between them is largely down to personal preference.

    Both your examples refer to a single event in the past, not something that took place over a period of time (where the present perfect is used a little differently). Here, the main reason for using the present perfect is because the event has some significance in the present. With the email, the significance is clear, since you are really asking whether the person now has your email, perhaps because you now want to talk about it. In this situation, I would use the present perfect, but there is nothing wrong that I can see with using the simple past tense, particularly if you weren't going to continue by talking about the email.

    In a different situation, perhaps if you are recalling events in the past where receiving the email has no direct relevance to the present, then only the simple past works:
    Did you receive that email John sent last year where he compared the management to a bowl of goldfish?​

    < Discussion of 'wedding day' is now in the other thread. Cagey, moderator >
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2018
  3. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    When you mention or assume a gap in time between a single event and "now":

    Did you receive the email yesterday that I sent the day before?:tick:
    Have you received the email yesterday that I sent the day before?:cross:

    < Discussion of 'wedding day' is now in the other thread. Cagey, moderator >
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2018
  4. Theo79 New Member

    German
    Thank you very much, guys.

    Are your explanations applicable to all cases in the english language or just for my examples?

    Another question that came to my mind is if the present perfect can be used in one sentence, e.g.:
    "This has been the hottest summer I have ever experienced."
     
  5. Uncle Jack

    Uncle Jack Senior Member

    Cumbria, UK
    British English
    No. This is the English language, where almost every situation is different. :)

    As I mentioned in post #2, the present perfect is used differently for something that took place over a period of time. In your sentence, the first present perfect "has been" is used because the hot summer has not yet ended; it is still the situation in the present. There is sometimes some flexibility and in some situations you might use the present perfect for something that has just ended, but mostly it means the thing is still taking place. The second present perfect "have experienced" is because you are considering your life up until now. The experience could have been in the past:
    1976 was the hottest summer I have ever experienced.​

    In your sentence, with this summer which is still continuing in the present, you need the present perfect with "experience". In my 1976 example, I could change it to the simple past "I ever experienced" with no significant change in meaning, very much like the email example.
     
  6. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    My explanation is intended to apply to all cases in American English.
    Yes, your sentence is fine. What problem do you see with it?
     

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