I have to write one of the following phrases into a formal correspondence (but not too formal), I was asked to review a document, and then get back to him when the document is finished

1) I have made all the changes and filled out the document log in the last page

2) I made all the changes and filled out the document log in the last page

Which one should I use?

This was the mail that I received :

.., so now you are ok to go ahead and make those corrections, accept changes and delete all comments. Let me know when you are finished. Can you also please make sure that the document log at the end of the document is complete


Both convey the same information and meaning and in many situations could be substituted for one another quite comfortably. However they do both stress slightly different things and a fluent English speaker would likely use one or the other for a specific reason:

I have made all the changes and filled out the document log in the last page

The inclusion of "have" in the first sentence emphasises that the changes are complete. The sentence is in the present perfect tense and the action of completing the form is in the past, and so is complete or has been finished. I would use this if I was returning the completed form to indicate that it has been completed.

I made all the changes and filled out the document log in the last page

Because this second sentence is past tense it better emphasises the action of completing it, rather than the fact it is now complete. I would use this if I wanted to indicate that it was "I" who made the changes, rather than anybody else.

Maybe this will help. In this example the person asking the question is interested in it's completion:

"Has the form been completed?"
"Yes, I have completed the form"

Whereas in this example the person asking the question is primarily interested in who completed it:

"Who completed the form?" "I completed the form"


The first sentence is preferred, as it relates what you did (past) to what the recipient can do (present).

In terms of the grammar, the first sentence fits the form of present perfect simple and is a perfect match for what you're wanting to say:

We use the present perfect simple when a single past action has a connection with the present:
e.g. "She’s broken her arm in two places." (Her arm is still broken now.)

That is, your first sentence relates what you did in the past (completed the work) with the present (the email recipient can now do whatever they had planned):

I have completed the work. (And it's now ready for you to use)

The second sentence would still be understood, but may focus the attention to you completing the work, and not the fact the work is completed. It can make it feel a little like you are trying to claim credit for it, and emphasise that you did all of the work.

This is because the second sentence takes the form of past simple. It states that you completed all the work - as a fact.

Generally, you might use this kind of phrasing if you were doing a personal evaluation at the end of the year. Stating all the key points of work you completed, and emphasising your involvement in the work.

Of course, either phrase will be understood and the second phrase is unlikely to cause trouble or get you a bad reputation by itself. But it's worth being aware of the implication it has, and how people may read into it.


Of the two sentences, first sentence is 'present perfect ' and second is 'past tense'

Here the first sentence correctly fits the context. You made the updates very recently. Hence present perfect is good to go. The second sentence would imply something happened in the past. But the updates were made very recently, prompted by the mail received.

To clear all this, I have taken the definitions and examples of 'present perfect ' from studyandexam.com:

Present Perfect Tense


It is used to expressed an action which happened or completed in past but usually the action which happened or completed at a short time before now (near past) not a very long time before now. Specific time such as two years ago, last week or that day is usually not used in the sentences of in this tense. It means that this tense expresses the action whose time when it happened, is not exactly specified but it sounds to refer to some action that happened or completed in near past.

Rules: Auxiliary verb “has or have” is used in sentence. 3rd form of verb (past participle) is used as main verb in sentence.

 Structure of Sentence

Positive Sentence          • Subject + Auxiliary verb + main verb (past participle) + Subject          • Subject + has/have + 3rd form of verb or past participle + subject

If the subject is “He, She, It, singular or proper name” then auxiliary verb “has” is used after subject in sentence. If subject is “You, They or plural” then auxiliary verb “have” is used after subject in sentence.

Examples        I have eaten meal        She has learnt a lesson


Negative Sentence         • Subject + Auxiliary verb + NOT + main verb (past participle) + Subject         • Subject + has/have + NOT + 3rd form of verb or past participle + subject

Rules for using auxiliary verb “has or have” in negative sentence are same as mentioned above.

Examples       I have not eaten meal.       She has not learnt a lesson.

Hope It helps. Thank you.

  • "I have eaten meal" and "I have not eaten meal" are not grammatical (unless you mean the rare mass noun 'meal' meaning 'flour'). They need articles before 'meal'. Also, your characterisation of the present perfect is only partial. It is used when the action has present relevance: this is often correlated with a recent event, but not invariably. "I have seen him at least once a year since childhood" is perfectly cromulent, though not recent: the present relevance is that the sequence of years is continuing. On the other hand, "I have seen him before he died" would be unusual, even if recent. – Colin Fine Oct 4 '16 at 21:46

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