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Consider this sentence:

Yesterday I said to my friend "Excuse me to being late". When I said the sentence I realized that I have said / had said a wrong sentence to him!

However, the sentence occurs in the past, but I think that since he is reporting his feeling or though just after the saying maybe "have told" is possible.

  • We don't "tell a sentence". We say it. You realized that you had said something incorrectly. You realize (pres) that you have said (pres perf) something incorrectly. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 1 '16 at 12:46
  • @tromano you say I could say When I said the sentence I realize that I have said a wrong sentence to him! ? These are all possible in Persian because one can say his feeling at that moment. Isn't such thing in English? – Ahmad Oct 1 '16 at 13:11
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    @TRomano Interesting. That reminds me of back shifting discussion in reporting speech. I thought that "He realized that I say something incorrectly" means that "he still thinks that my saying is wrong" I often confuses such sentences. – Cardinal Oct 1 '16 at 14:16
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    @Cardinal: I would understand He realized that I write with my left hand to mean "I always write with my left hand and he realized that". But if you're talking about a specific incident in the past: He realized that I had written it with my right hand, and that that was why the penmanship was almost illegible. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 1 '16 at 17:11
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    @Ahmad: It seems you're trying to use the "historical present". It is then that I realize that I am using the term incorrectly. That is legitimate when narrating a past event. It is then that I realize that I have given him the wrong train schedule. The tense of the that-clause depends on the time of its action. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Oct 1 '16 at 17:18
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Are you talking about something you did in the past? If so, use the past perfect. The present perfect is a present tense.

You are talking about what you did or said yesterday. You can't say

*Yesterday I have made a mistake

because yesterday excludes the present.

Likewise, you can't use the present perfect when the time frame of everything that you are talking about was yesterday.

Even if the report of the second sentence comes immediately after the statement of the first sentence, this reporting still happened entirely in the past, thus the present perfect can't be used.

  • I know these rules. but I mean to report his feeling just after he said the statement. something like at that moment I realize I have said something incorrectly. Notice to at that moment. – Ahmad Oct 1 '16 at 14:58
  • It doesn't matter. Even if the report comes immediately after the statement of the first sentence, this reporting still happened entirely in the past, thus the present perfect can't be used. Likewise, you cannot say '*At that moment I realize I have said something incorrectly' because 'at that moment' is talking about a past moment, and it excludes the present, so both 'realize' and 'have said' are ungrammatical. – Alan Carmack Oct 1 '16 at 15:18
  • I see that's not possible in English. Now I have another question. Suppose that I have done a mistake. What it means? It means the effect of that mistake still exists. Right? Now you ask when did you realize that? I reply yesterday I realized I have done a mistake. Isn't it possible? I can't say yesterday I realized I had done a mistake. Because it'd mean now there is no problem. However it's a new situation and dose'nt relate to my main question. – Ahmad Oct 1 '16 at 15:54
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    '*Yesterday I realized I have made (not: done) a mistake' is not grammatical. You would usually say: 'Yesterday I realized I made a mistake'. If you have to put that mistake-making before another past event, you use the past perfect and say 'Yesterday I realized I had made a mistake when I saw my friend laughing at me'. – Alan Carmack Oct 1 '16 at 20:35

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