past simple or present perfect

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April_

Member
Spanish
I have a doubt.

I don't know what tense I must use in this sentence.

I have met/met John in the supermarket today.

Can you explain me why?

Thanks
 
  • Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    I met John in the supermarket today would be my choice. Normally, including a time reference like today could generate past perfect, but in this case the action must be regarded as finished, in the past, because the verb is perfective, i.e. the action is completed as soon as it happens, and also, since in the supermarket was specified, we assume that the speaker is no longer in the supermarket, and therefore, the action is completed, and we get past simple.

    /Wilma
     
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    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Wilma's explanation is clear. I agree with it. That said, we ask for context for a reason.
    If the speaker and John are still together at the time of the statement, the present perfect might make sense.
     

    Suspishio

    Senior Member
    English - England
    April,

    My experience is that the "I met John..." form would be more common than the other. Usage would be of a casual nature to the meeting.

    "I have met with John ..." is what I would say is the more usual form of the past perfect sense, and that would be used when the following sentence described a purpose for the encounter.

    EDIT: Having written this while the other posts were being constructed, my analysis supports Wilma's.
     
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    Wilma_Sweden

    Senior Member
    Swedish (Scania)
    "I have met with John ..." is what I would say is the more usual form of the past perfect sense, and that would be used when the following sentence described a purpose for the encounter.
    Met with is different from met if we mean 'have a meeting with' rather than just 'bump into'. Having a meeting usually lasts a while, so its nature is more imperfective. I can imagine John or the speaker working at the supermarket, and in that case, I have met with John at the supermarket today should be pretty idiomatic.

    /Wilma
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I usually try to simplify things. This time I will complicate them.

    1. I met John in the supermarket today. I bumped into him, encountered him.

    2. I had an appointment to meet with a person for the first time. I did so. I am now telling a colleague about the meeting and its outcome:

    I have met John in the supermarket today. [As scheduled.] We have agreed to a plan for next week's bank robbery. He seems like a charming burglar.

    You could use the past tense in the sentences above, but for a narrative description the present perfect works well.
     

    Prower

    Banned
    Russian
    I met John in the supermarket today would be my choice. Normally, including a time reference like today could generate past perfect present perfect!!!
    I have read the explanation of Wilma's and I am not sure if it always works.

    - Do you see what it is writen on the blackboard?
    - No, I have left my glasses at home.

    Do you think that have left is not correct here? But it is finished and completed in the past.
     
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    KeepinOn

    Senior Member
    US - English
    Here's a general rule of thumb I use that works (most of the time):
    1- use simple past when something happened at a specified time in the past
    2- use present perfect when something happened at an unspecified time in the past

    I interpret the adverb "today" as providing a specific time in the past.

    In Prower's example, no specific time in the past is specified so the present perfect is used.

    In terms of general usage, with rule number 2, people often use simple past when no time in the past is specified. It would be just as common in many dialects to say "I left my glasses at home" or "I've left my glasses at home." I've noticed simple past is used more frequently in these cases in US Eng than in BE. Generally, I advise learners to use this rule because even though there is some variation in how frequently it's produced in natural speech, anyone understands if speakers always use the rule and it usually doesn't sound "wrong."

    People do tend to follow rule #1 consistently. For example, I don't think someone would ever say "I've seen that movie last weekend."
     

    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I usually try to simplify things. This time I will complicate them.

    1. I met John in the supermarket today. I bumped into him, encountered him.

    2. I had an appointment to meet with a person for the first time. I did so. I am now telling a colleague about the meeting and its outcome:

    I have met John in the supermarket today. [As scheduled.] We have agreed to a plan for next week's bank robbery. He seems like a charming burglar.

    You could use the past tense in the sentences above, but for a narrative description the present perfect works well.
    It sounds as if an unintended action requires PAST SIMPLE while an intended (scheduled) requires PRESENT PERFECT)
     
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