EN: Have you done / Did you

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by karimcha, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. karimcha New Member

    French (Canadian)
    I know that it must have came up again and again, but I was just wondering what's the difference between the expressions 'did you' and 'have you'?

    Would it be okay to ask a kid 'Did you do your homework?' or should I ask 'Have you done your homework.' Are both usable in different circumstances?

    Please enlighten me,
  2. La_Paloma New Member

    English, Konkani
    Yes both are usable. But the one most people would say is Have you done...
    you can use did you too. they both mean the same thing.
  3. felicity09 Senior Member

    English - USA
    "Have you done" is a bit more formal, but both are acceptable.
  4. Already-Seen Senior Member

    French - France
  5. ajparis Senior Member

    American English
    No! The three posts above are absolutely wrong. "Have you done your homework (yet)?" implies there is still time to do it if the answer is No. You would say "Did you do your homework?" only if there is no more time to do it.

    John's mother might ask the first question after dinner, when he wants to watch TV. (If she's not too educated she might ask it the second way.)

    The second question is what the teacher might ask the next day in class, or a friend just before school started.
  6. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    Absolutely! :thumbsup:
  7. felicity09 Senior Member

    English - USA
    That is a distinction without a difference - both questions can be answered with a yes or a no and are therefore both acceptable.
  8. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    Of course they can, but that's not the difference. I'm inclined to go along with the idea that with the present perfect the notion that the homework can still be done is uppermost in the mind of the person asking the question, whereas with the simple past, the action whether done or not is a fait accompli.

    The other question of course is does the average speaker make the distinction? I have my doubts.
  9. felicity09 Senior Member

    English - USA
    To say that 'above responses are absolutely wrong' is not only incorrect, it is also very unhelpful to non-native speakers.
  10. ajparis Senior Member

    American English
    I still defend my response. Without question, native speakers will naturally opt for one tense or the other depending on circumstances. Same for "Have you seen Steve?" as opposed to "Did you see Steve?". In one situation he is lurking about somewhere and might reappear; in the second it is understood that he has left. It's a beautiful nuance of English, one we should treasure, not underplay.
  11. felicity09 Senior Member

    English - USA
    A 'nuance' is one thing, saying something is 'absolutely wrong' when it absolutely isn't is something else. Perhaps you can elaborate on why the above posts are "absolutely wrong".
  12. yuechu Senior Member

    Canada, English
    I agree that there is indeed a nuance between the two tenses, which is important for non-native speakers to learn.
  13. ajparis Senior Member

    American English

    Sure, I can try. The choice between simple past and present perfect in Karimcha's example is indeed a nuance but a crucial and interesting one. Depending on the given situation, every native speaker (including Felicity!) will automatically use one or the other without having to think. We all learn that the simple past refers to the past and the present perfect implies a connection to the present. I think my other examples are clear, but I could add for further clarity:

    "Have you seen Psycho?" As opposed to "Did you see Psycho?"

    "Psycho is playing at the Bijou this week. Have you seen it yet?" (There is the possibility of going today or tomorrow, so pres. perf.)

    "Psycho is my favorite movie. Have you ever seen it?" ("Have you ever" is a special construction that embraces a person's whole life experience, travel, work, activities, up to the present, therefore pres. perf. is needed. In my opinion "Did you ever see Psycho?" is substandard English.)

    "Psycho was on TV last night. Did you see it?" (Simple past is the only choice because that particular screening is over. If you missed it, it's too late. I'm sure, Felicity, that you wouldn't say, "Have you seen Psycho last night?")

    Sorry if my choice of words was... energetic, but the fact remains that it is "absolutely" incorrect to imply that the two are interchangeable or that the difference depends merely on style. Exceptions are part of language, of course, but it would be mighty hard to find situations where both are equally correct. It looked to me like Karimcha knows English well and is looking to fill certain gaps, so why not answer his question? It's better than saying, "They're basically just the same, it's not that important, foreign speakers shouldn't waste their time trying to understand such niceties, they'll only get all confused..."

    PS For Karimcha, since it was your question! A simple guideline, aside from all this philosophy: in questions where you say (or imply) "so far", "up to now", "yet", use "Have you...?"). In cases where a deadline in the past is stated or implied ("yesterday", "last year", "when you were young"...), use "Did you...?"). "Have you ever....?" is a special case in point.

    I hope these complex answers to your simple question haven't given you a headache (in which case your head would still hurt); I even hope they didn't give you a headache! (In which case your head would not still hurt).
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2009
  14. felicity09 Senior Member

    English - USA
    "Have you done your homework?" and "Did you do your homework?" are interchangeable. If you add more baggage and implications that can change, but as they are, which is the original question, they are interchangeable.
  15. fisherofsouls Member

    Sorry Felicity, but I'm with ajparis on this one.

    As an Angeleno who has lived the UK for 27 years, I can come at the question from both sides of the pond.

    When I was a kid, I would certainly have agreed that the questions "Have you done your homework" and "Did you do your homework" were effectively interchangeable, not to mention unwelcome !!!

    Over here however, there is a definite difference. My wife (a native Londoner) would never say "Did you do your homework ?" unless the implication was that said homework had been completed firmly in the past: last night, over the weekend etc.

    The usual cry in our house on a weekday evening is "Have you done your homework ?" followed by the unspoken implication "..yet ? And why not ?" :)

  16. felicity09 Senior Member

    English - USA
    Well fisherofsouls I ran this past my two young daughters and they agreed with you so I surrender - apparently I never did my homework...

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