past simple / present perfect [interchangeable?]

A moment after dropping my ice-cream.

I can say either:

• I dropped my ice-cream

• I've dropped my ice-cream (with present perfect, the meaning is clear that it has an effect on present that it can no longer be eaten).


But if ,for example,

My teacher asks me ,

Why are you not writing?

I'd use present perfect for whatever reason

I've lost my pen.

Or if someone asks me

would you like to have lunch with me?

I'd say
I've eaten , not, I ate.

I've eaten implies that i won't be going for lunch with them.


Am I right?
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    Why are you not writing?
    I've lost my pen.:tick:
    I just lost my pen.:tick:

    Would you like to have lunch with me?
    I've already eaten lunch, thanks.:tick:
    I already ate lunch, thanks.:tick:

    Without "already" or "today", the sentence "I've eaten lunch" could mean yesterday or last week or 55 times this year.
     
    How often are past simple and present perfect interchangeable?

    In general, in English, two things {words, phrases, etc} are almost never interchangeable (that is, without change of meaning). One rare example cited in a text is that you may substitute 'rapidly' for 'quickly' in "His car quickly pulled ahead in the race."
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    The combination of the simple past and "already" doesn't usually work in BE, and most BE speakers would say "I've already eaten lunch", not "I already ate lunch". :(

    "I've eaten lunch yesterday" sounds odd because it doesn't make logical sense as an answer to the question "Would you like to have lunch with me?"
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    I did not suggest "I've eaten lunch yesterday."

    I said that when a person says "I've eaten lunch." (with no other words added) that means "I have eaten lunch sometime before now." It does not mean "today". It does not mean "one time". It could mean many times.

    The context (the situation) may make it clear that "I've eaten" or "I ate" means today's lunch.
     
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    Yeah. So, not only present perfect implies some effect on present, it can refer to an unspecified time in past as well. Using already will eliminate any ambiguity that the listener might percieve.

    But in this context;
    Would you like to have lunch with me?

    Even if I don't use already in my reply, the meaning is implicit. Or is it not?
     
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    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    My mistake! Sorry. I have deleted my incorrect post. You're talking about this situation:

    Someone: Would you like to have lunch with me?
    You: I've eaten lunch, thanks.
    You: I ate lunch, thanks.

    Yes, in the context of replying to this question, "already" is implied and it's clear you mean today's lunch.

    But without "already" these answers are so short that they seem a little bit rude. These are more polite, and more natural:

    Thanks, but I've already eaten.
    Thanks, but I ate already.
    I've already had lunch, but thanks.
    I ate lunch last period, but thanks.
     

    le avocado

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    How often are past simple and present perfect interchangeable?

    I am confused about this too. I already learned/have learned from the grammar book that there are some situations we must use simple past, and there are situation we must use present perfect. But from what I observed/ have observed by watching movies and videos on youtube. I found/ have found that there are some situations we can use these tenses interchangeably.

    I think that for situations mentioned within the period from the past until now which we don't mention specific time, or don't have a specific time in our mind (such as yesterday, 2 days ago, last years....), we can use these tense interchangeably.

    Here are some example I found/ have found:

    (1) The conversation between 2 friends:
    A: You are so kind, you helped/ have helped me a lot. You did/ have done a lot of good things for me.
    (I mean from the past until now without specific time)
    B: You are welcome.

    (2)The conversation between 2 friends:
    A:What is your hobby?
    B:I love playing with my dogs. I have 2 dogs. They are so cute.
    A:I talked/have talked about your pets. Could you please tell me more detail about them?
    B: Sure. The first one named Cici, he has black fur, he is so mischievous...... The second one named Bibi........

    (3)The conversation between 2 friends:
    A: Can I stay at your home tonight. I lost my key and I can't get in to my house.
    B: Of course.

    For these 2 examples, 2 tenses are interchangeable without difference in the meanings, AE tends to use simple past and BE tends to use present perfect. Is it right?

    Above are just my opinions, Which I don't know if they are correct or not. I would like your opinion.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    (1) The conversation between 2 friends:
    A: You are so kind, you helped/ have helped me a lot. You did/ have done a lot of good things for me.
    (I mean from the past until now without specific time)
    B: You are welcome.
    Firstly, it is worth noting that all the examples in your thread are for actions in the past that have a significance in the present (or possibly not: it is this significance that determines whether you use the present perfect or the past tense). Do not confuse this use of the present perfect with the use for an action that began in the past and continues up to the present. For actions that began in the past and continue up to the present, the present perfect is always used, not the past tense.

    In sentence (1), the focus of the sentence is on the present, which means that the present perfect can be used, at least in BrE. However whether you choose to use the present perfect depends on whether you are primarily thinking of the effect of the other person having helped you and having done good things for you (use the present perfect), or whether you are thinking of the actions themselves (use the past tense).
    (2)The conversation between 2 friends:
    A:What is your hobby?
    B:I love playing with my dogs. I have 2 dogs. They are so cute.
    A:I talked/have talked about your pets. Could you please tell me more detail about them?
    B: Sure. The first one named Cici, he has black fur, he is so mischievous...... The second one named Bibi........
    Here, the entire conversation is about the present. The speaker's talking is in the past, but the action of talking is of no importance in itself, it is mentioned only to get the other person to talk more. Use the present perfect (in BrE)
    (3)The conversation between 2 friends:
    A: Can I stay at your home tonight. I lost my key and I can't get in to my house.
    B: Of course.
    A's losing their key is important, so the past tense is possible, but the conversation is all about the effect it has in the present, and in BrE I would expect to hear the present perfect.
    .
     

    le avocado

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Do not confuse this use of the present perfect with the use for an action that began in the past and continues up to the present. For actions that began in the past and continue up to the present, the present perfect is always used, not the past tense.
    whether you are primarily thinking of the effect of the other person having helped you and having done good things for you (use the present perfect),
    Hi Uncle Jack,
    Thanks for your dedicated answer as usual.

    I agree with all your explanations above.

    I have a question related to situation (1).
    You said that we use present perfect here because we are primarily thinking of the effect of the other person having helped you and having done good things for you.

    Can I use the reason that I can consider the action of person having helped you and having done good things for you is an action that began in the past and continue up to the present?==> so, we must use present perfect here due to this reason.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have a question related to situation (1).
    You said that we use present perfect here because we are primarily thinking of the effect of the other person having helped you and having done good things for you.
    You might be primarily thinking of the effect in the present (use the present perfect, at least in BrE) or you might primarily be thinking of the action itself (use the past tense). There is no right or wrong answer here.
    Can I use the reason that I can consider the action of person having helped you and having done good things for you is an action that began in the past and continue up to the present?==> so, we must use present perfect here due to this reason.
    No. The began in the past and continues up to the present use of the present perfect almost always has a time period mentioned (or is a question asking how long a time period it is). Usually this is in the form "since..." or "for...". I seem to recall some exceptions to this, but I cannot remember what they are.
     

    le avocado

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Hi Uncle Jack,
    Thanks so much for your explanation for my question .

    I seem to recall some exceptions to this, but I cannot remember what they are.
    Is below the example you mean?

    If the period of time is until now:
    **We have to say:
    I have read this book 5 times, so I remember most of its details.Let me tell you about it.
    **We can not say (although we can think of actions of reading itself at different times in the past)
    I read this book 5 times,so I remember most of its details. Let me tell you about it.

    Is my opinion correct?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't understand what you mean. There isn't a time period nor have you been continuously or repeatedly been reading the book over a period of time that extends up to the present.

    On five occasions in the past, you read the book. Because the sentence is mostly about what you remember in the present, it makes sense to use the present perfect, but don't think that this use of the present perfect has anything to do with beginning in the past and continuing up to the present.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    How often are past simple and present perfect interchangeable?
    Instead of "interchangeable" I would say "either tense can be used". Perhaps that happens more often in AE than in BE. How often does it happen? I don't know. But your wording (including verb tense) depends on your meaning:

    (1) a single event lasting throughout the entire time period vs. a shorter event happening during the time period
    (2) one event (possibly N times) vs. one or more events (a total count of events)
    (3) a past time period that ends now vs. a past time period that ended before now
    (4) a recurring (habitual) action vs. a single action
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    A moment after dropping my ice-cream.

    I can say either:

    • I dropped my ice-cream

    • I've dropped my ice-cream (with present perfect, the meaning is clear that it has an effect on present that it can no longer be eaten).


    But if ,for example,

    My teacher asks me ,

    Why are you not writing?

    I'd use present perfect for whatever reason

    I've lost my pen.

    Or if someone asks me

    would you like to have lunch with me?

    I'd say
    I've eaten , not, I ate.

    I've eaten implies that i won't be going for lunch with them.


    Am I right?
    "I've dropped my ice cream" and "I dropped my ice cream" can both be used to report the same event. If it happened just a moment ago and I want to suggest that the ice cream is no longer edible, I would use the latter version since it is more to the point:

    I dropped the ice cream I bought just a minute ago, so I need to go back and get another one.

    "I've eaten" and "I ate" are both possible, but they don't say much. Why not "I would like to, but I've already eaten" or "I would like to, but I ate before I left home"?
     
    It might be mentioned that the British folks tend more to use the present perfect in a number of common, or 'gray area' cases.
    To this North American ear, it sounds more refined. :)

    I'd tentatively propose this, more British rendering of the above sentence.

    [B's proposal] I've just dropped the ice cream I bought-- I'll have to go get another. {?}
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I'll be a voice for AE. I would tend to use simple past in general and restrict present perfect to situations where it is "necessary". For an action that completed more than a millisecond ago, present perfect is not necessary.

    • I dropped my ice cream.

    It's on the floor. The action is complete. Simple past. Whatever the consequences of that are, it doesn't change the fact that the ice cream is no longer falling.

    - Why are you not writing?

    - I dropped my pen. (It's done moving.)
    - I've lost my pen. (It's still lost.)
     
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    le avocado

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Here is a situation I brought up above. According to Uncle Jack explained for me in this situation, I can use either:
    (1) The conversation between 2 friends:
    A: You are so kind, you helped/ have helped me a lot. You did/ have done a lot of good things for me.
    (I mean from the past until now without specific time)
    B: You are welcome.
    You might be primarily thinking of the effect in the present (use the present perfect, at least in BrE) or you might primarily be thinking of the action itself (use the past tense). There is no right or wrong answer here.
    This means:
    If I mainly think of the friend's past actions of help==> use simple past
    If i mainly think of the effect of the friend's past actions of help==>use present perfect.

    Thanks to the help on previous posts, I understood the use of tenses for this situation.

    **
    I would like to ask more about another situation:

    I (have read)/ (read) this book 5 times, so I remember most of its details.Let me tell you about it.

    On five occasions in the past, you read the book. Because the sentence is mostly about what you remember in the present, it makes sense to use the present perfect, but don't think that this use of the present perfect has anything to do with beginning in the past and continuing up to the present.
    I agree with Uncle' Jack explanation about using present perfect for this situation, and his explanation matches with what I learned from grammar books. And I know that BrE will use (have read) for this situation.



    I wonder that if I can apply that the formula of above situation to this situation:
    *If I mainly think of the 5 times of reading that book in the past==> use simple past (I read this book 5 times...)
    *If I mainly think of the effect of 5 times of reading that book (I know well all the details now) ==>use present perfect (I have read this book 5 times...)


    As I see, in both situations, the action of help may or may not happen in the future, and the action of reading may or may not happen in the future too. So, If I can use simple past for the reading situation like helping situation.

    Because I know that BrE will use present perfect for this situation.
    So, I would like to hear from AmE speakers if I can use simple past in the US for the reading situation.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    "I have read that book five times" would be normal in AE. Your life is not over and you might read it again.

    If you are lying in bed dying and unable to read a book anymore you can say, "I read that book five times". It will never be six times.

    You can also use it in a more specific past situation.

    - I read that book five times when I was a teenager.

    You will never read that book as a teenager again.
     

    le avocado

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    "I have read that book five times" would be normal in AE. Your life is not over and you might read it again.

    If you are lying in bed dying and unable to read a book anymore you can say, "I read that book five times". It will never be six times.
    Thanks so much for your answer.

    The thing I don't understand is that in the situation below, the action of help may keep happen in the future, but we still can use simple past, but why we can not use simple past for the reading situation, which may keep happen in the future too.

    A: You are so kind, you helped/ have helped me a lot. You did/ have done a lot of good things for me.
    B: You are welcome.
    (I have read this situation on another threads this forum, and people advised that there are no difference between two tenses for this situation).
     
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