I attached vs I have attached

Discussion in 'English Only' started by stgo2008, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. stgo2008 New Member

    spanish english

    My boss says he was told by an american that he could use I attached the document and I keep correcting him saying its I have attached the document. I'm sure I'm write, what do you think?
  2. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    I would say xxxx (document) is attached or enclosed; alternatively, right at the end of the letters you can put: enc [for enclosures] followed by a list of the things enclosed.

    I attached .... sounds very American to me!

    I have attached .... is OK, but you should write a letter as far as possible for the recipient - tell him what he needs to know and nothing else. He doesn't want to know the history of the letter, he wants to know what is in it when he gets it.
  3. afterlife Banned

    US, Spanish/English
    Both are right in AmE. Depends on the context.

    This morning I attached a document... (the morning is over).
    Today I have attached a document... (the day is not over).
  4. Matching Mole

    Matching Mole Senior Member

    England, English
    IN BE I would say either "I attach" or "I have attached", or even "I am attaching". The passive "is attached" (as recommended by Teddy) is also perfectly fine, but probably not my choice. I don't have any objections to providing "history", these are all very short statements after all, it's not as if I'm writing a novel about it.

    I understand that in AE rules are more relaxed in regard to plain past/present perfect choices. However, I would consider "I attached" in this context to be incorrect in BE; I think the recipient, if he or she were British, would not be impressed if I were to use it.

    If you are in Europe, I think it is advisable to stick to BE rules, as this is the official form of English in the EEC EU.
  5. Lexiphile Senior Member

    England English
    Just for the record, Mole, it's called the EU now. The EEC died the death a few years back.
  6. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    I think that you need to give us some context. I see nothing wrong with "When I replied to Mr. Green, I attached the document to my letter." I also see nothing at all odd about a sentence that read "I do not know if you had a chance to read the document I attached to my last letter." What is the sentence that you think is "wrong" because it uses the simple past instead of the present perfect?
  7. SwissJeremy Senior Member

    Sorry the start this thread again but I've been wondering about this for quite some time! I heard also heard that AE speakers often prefer to use the simple past even if there is some kind of connection to the present. -Like I lost my key-(-> I don't have it anymore) and so on. But still when ever I got an e-mail from Americans and they didn't just write down: "please find attached document xx for your records" they wrote "I've attached document xx for your records" but never "I attached document xx for your records" are both possible in AE and do they use present perfect to be more formal or is simple past also wrong in AE?
  8. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    You are more right now. :)
  9. SwissJeremy Senior Member

    Any other contributions? :)
  10. losvedir Senior Member

    English - California
    "I have attached document xx..." sounds more formal to me than "I attached document xx...".

    That said, I'm not sure that it's because the present perfect is inherently more formal. It might just be "tradition", almost, to write in that tense in business e-mails. In that case, I would associate "have attached" with business e-mails and so it would sound more formal to me.

    Graphically, I think the causality might be:

    (PP in business e-mails) -> (PP sounds more formal)


    (PP sounds more formal) -> (PP in business e-mails)

    But really, neither tense is wrong. You can just think of the PP in e-mails as a sort of American business custom. :)

    Lastly, you're right about lost keys, my roommate says "I lost my keys" all the damn time. And then I have to let him in. Argh.
  11. BODYholic Senior Member

    Chinese Cantonese
    In this case, it is not a matter of right or wrong. Since both usage of tenses are grammatically correct. It then boils down to how each sentence aptly describes your situation.

    1. Simple Past - A past action.
    Here you informed your recipient that a document was attached prior to sending and that's it.

    2. Present Perfect - A past action which has impact on the present.
    Here you informed your recipient that a document has been attached prior to sending and you are expecting the document to reach your recipient.
  12. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    We Americans do often use, for example, "I just found the key" in place of "I have just found the key" if the meaning is clear from the context, and to us the grammar is just fine, but "I attached" in place of "I have attached" seems to me to be a different matter though. The context I imagine for the letter makes "I am attaching" a better fit than "I attached".

    As GWB has said, it depends on the context: adverbs of time, sequence of tenses, etc. I believe GWB's example sentences are correct on both sides of the Atlantic. Context may also make Teddy's suggestions most appropriate.

    I can say little more without at least some hypothetical context.

Share This Page