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When someone asks us: "What have you done?", how we should answer?
With present perfect? or we can use simple past?
For example" what have you done?" " I just opened the can" or 'I have just opened the can?' I think the second one is correct, but some say that both of them are correct. if so, can you explain the reason?
I don't want to know only which one is correct, but I want to know the grammatical reason. I am confused about the different tenses. The question is in present perfect tense but the answer is in the simple past tense? is that okay?the question and answer are correct? what's the explanation for this different tenses?

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    The answer is supposed to be defensive, right? I mean "just" is functioning here as "only" rather than as "only a second ago." So "I have just opened the can" sounds more like "I only opened the can a second ago." But "I just opened the can" is more like "I only opened the can." To me anyway, and in this context. – developerwjk Sep 16 '16 at 23:45
  • I am confused about the different tenses. The question is in present perfect tense but the answer is in the simple past tense? is that okay?the question and answer are correct? – user196686 Sep 16 '16 at 23:49
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    When someone asks "What have you done?" in exactly that way in English, it often implies that the speaker thinks you have done something wrong. Is that the case here? The answer to your question on tense is simple: unless you have an important reason to use another tense, the simple past is best. "I opened the can" or "I just opened the can" (which means either "I opened the can within the past few minutes" or "The only thing I did was to open the can.") – P. E. Dant Sep 17 '16 at 0:41
  • thank you so much...I am grateful...It's still a little vague to me but now I understand it better – user196686 Sep 17 '16 at 7:49
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To me the second answer sounds much better. The question is "what have you done?" And it denotes a recent past. It would be preferable to give the answer as "I have just opened the can" which implies a recent past too. Had the question be " what did you do?" Then you might answer as "I opened the can". Again. The word just could mean two things. It could either mean you did the work very recently. Or, you have just done that particular deed and not anything else. So it might be better to be clear in the answer as to that.

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Actually, you can use either the Past Simple or the Present Perfect and both will be correct. Take these example for instance:

  • "Now, what have you done?"
  • "I didn't do anything. It broke itself."

  • "What have you done today?"
  • "Well, I washed the dished and I made a tasty cake"

  • "What have you done to him?"
  • "I have already told you, I tried to reason him."

In your example both are correct. In speech I would prefer Past Simple in almost all cases. There's not much need for Present Perfect unless you really mean to use it. But I'm not a native speaker so that's how I see it.

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