Haven't done anything/ didn't do anything

Meedfried

Senior Member
Hello,

What you would choose between: "I haven't done anything" or "I didn't do anything" in this context:

Someone is yelling at me because he think I have done something and I reply " what are you yelling at me as I didn't do /haven't done anything"

Since this is in the present moment I would choose the PP.

Thank you!
 
  • Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    So in BE the PP could be used?
    It could, but the choice of tense would depend on a number of factors.
    For example:
    What exactly was the 'thing' which you had supposedly done?
    How long ago was this supposed to have happened?

    A word of advice: if in doubt, go for the past simple. It's far less likely to be wrong.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English (US - northeast)
    what are you yelling at me as I didn't do /haven't done anything"
    I would never use "as" or "what". And is this sentence a question or a statement? I would use two sentences -- one question, and one sentence statement:

    Why are you yelling at me? I didn't do anything. :tick:
    Why are you yelling at me? I haven't done anything. :tick:
     

    Meedfried

    Senior Member
    What exactly was the 'thing' which you had supposedly done?
    How long ago was this supposed to have happened?
    For example: he is thinking that his car is scratched because of me. So, it could have happened a few days ago.
    A word of advice: if in doubt, go for the past simple. It's far less likely to be wrong.
    This advice is for any situation? This is because in AE, the past simple is used more.
    I would never use "as" or "what". And is this sentence a question or a statement?
    Yes, the "what" is not correct and "why" is. For the "as" I do not understand?
    This sentence is more a question.
     
    I (AE speaker) might say either "didn't do" or "haven't done." It would depend on the context somewhat, but also on whichever came to mind first. The two phrases are often interchangeable.

    In terms of context, I think "I didn't do anything" is more likely when a single incident is involved and "I haven't done anything" more likely when the question concerns actions over a period of time.

    Note also that "what have you done?", said with anger, dismay or incredulity, is almost a set phrase when confronting someone about a very serious error or act of misconduct. The response would follow the form of the question: "I haven't done anything."
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    SSBE (Standard Southern British English)
    A word of advice: if in doubt, go for the past simple. It's far less likely to be wrong.

    This advice is for any situation? This is because in AE, the past simple is used more.
    If by "situation", you mean in either a BrE or AmE context - yes. If you aren't sure whether to use a present perfect or a past simple, your safest bet is to go for past simple. The past simple is far more likely to be correct, or at least acceptable. This is very often the case in AmE, and also - to a slightly lesser extent - in BrE.

    For example, it is definitely wrong to use a present perfect with a finished time:
    I saw him yesterday :tick:
    I've seen him yesterday.:cross:

    But with an unfinished period of time, it's possible to use either tense.
    I saw him today. :tick:
    I've seen him today. :tick:
     
    Last edited:
    Top