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According Grammar books, we should use simple past tense for a past action happened at a specific time in the past.

Ex: I was there 2 days ago.

Anh present perfect tense can be used with "just". Ex: I have just seen that film

But googling "has just finished a few days ago" returns 141000 results

So, "it has just finished a few days ago" or "it just finished a few days ago"? which one is correct?

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    Possible duplicate of Canonical Post #2: What is the perfect, and how should I use it? – Andrew Nov 11 '16 at 1:13
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    @Andrew, this question is much more specific. – Tom Nov 11 '16 at 1:22
  • Questions about the perfect are perhaps the most common on ELL. This linked post is extremely comprehensive and almost certainly includes the answer you seek. The answer to your question is that both are correct -- it depends what you want to say. So you need to understand what the perfect tenses mean, and reading this post should help. – Andrew Nov 11 '16 at 1:30
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    @Andrew: I don't generally consider "go read this long and comprehensive post for your answer" to be the best use of the duplicate mechanism. (There are five long answers to choose from for different sections!) – Nathan Tuggy Nov 11 '16 at 1:43
  • @NathanTuggy first I get dinged for responding to duplicate questions, now you tell me I should just answer the question? I wish y'all would make up your minds. – Andrew Nov 11 '16 at 3:53
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So to distill the relevant portion of the canonical post (which I still recommend you read):

The use of the past or present perfect implies the action happens relative to something else. The past perfect suggests the action occurs before some other action (which you will subsequently mention) while the present perfect implies the action is still going on.

The phrase "It has just finished" adds a little more emphasis to the just than "it just finished", since it implies the action was going on right up to the present moment. Otherwise the meaning is much the same. Feel free to use either structure as feels appropriate.

That being said, "it has just finished a few days ago" is an odd construction. It should be "it had just finished a few days ago (before something else happened)". The action happened in the past, so (if you are going to use the perfect at all) you should use the past perfect.

I don't think Google is a good resource to judge the popularity of an English phrase since it searches for results with parts of the phrase and not necessarily the entire phrase. Try Googling "it has just finished a few days ago" (with the quotes) and you'll only see three results, two of which are this question. :)

  • Yes! Phrases and expressions should be enclosed in quotes before citing the number of hits a particular search revealed. And it's nearly always better to cite these type of figures from Google Books, because the results are taken from published sources. – Mari-Lou A Nov 11 '16 at 5:16
  • On the other hand, your answer begins by suggesting that "it has just finished a few days ago" is grammatical, but then reveals it is not idiomatic. Which is a bit of a mixed message IMO. Is my interpretation correct? – Mari-Lou A Nov 11 '16 at 5:24
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    @Mari-LouA "It has just finished (now)" is fine. "It has just finished (a few days ago)" mixes present and past tenses and so would be odd in any language. It's grammatical, but kind of nonsensical, like saying, "I plan to do my shopping yesterday" – Andrew Nov 11 '16 at 7:09
  • So your answer is saying the form (it has just finished a few days ago) is grammatical but "odd". I would be a bit more assertive. :) I understand that many users are against prescriptive grammar rules, and can't help point out exceptions, but sometimes the general (and prescriptive) rule is the best piece of advice EFL teachers should give to learners. While StoneyB's canonical post is very comprehensive, I've never seen any student or teacher grammar book go in as much detail, for 'intermediate' learners it can be extremely daunting to read. – Mari-Lou A Nov 11 '16 at 7:22
  • What rule could I say, though? That it's wrong? A dozen of the more didactic professional linguists on this site would come along and furiously chide me for daring to presume. Anyway, it's not like English is the only language in which you can speak perfectly grammatical nonsense. These students are already fluent in their own language, and now they're just trying to translate familiar thought patterns into the weirdness of English. – Andrew Nov 11 '16 at 7:38

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