This is a question from my English exercise book:

Choose the best answer A, B ,c or D to complete the following sentence:

I _____ through the booklet but couldn’t find the address.

A. scanned B. scan C. have scanned D. am scanning

Even the answer key is 'A. scanned', I think 'C. have scanned' is also possible. In my opinion, both the present perfect (have scanned) and past simple (scanned) in this case indicate an action / event started and finished in the past.

I would appreciate if you could tell me whether my understanding is correct or not.

  • 2
    Both choices would be OK but A is slightly better, IMO, though it's a matter of opinion. If I were to use the pres.perf, I would probably say "I've scanned the book but can't find the address". The past-tense couldn't shifts the episode back in time.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 10:12

2 Answers 2


Both A and C would be acceptable to say. "Have scanned" puts more emphasis on the fact that you've have ALREADY scanned through the booklet, but the meanings are both pretty much identical in this context.

I would generally use option C to respond to the question "Have you scanned through the booklet?"

and I would use option A to respond to the question "Did you scan through the booklet?"


Both are grammatically correct, though A is more common. I would expect to hear C when emphasising the fact that the action is complete or was carried out. If you wanted to further emphasise that fact, then you would stress the word have. ("I have scanned through...")

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