As soon as I started the car I realised that something was wrong with the engine

I thought it would be possible to use present perfect "As soon as I've started the car...", meaning the action has been finished. It is a question whereby I need to complete with past simple or present perfect. The question answer says simple past is the correct answer.

  • The simple past is correct because everything that happened in the story happened completely in the past. The present perfect is actually a present tense, technically, and is used to relate things that happened in the past to your present state.
    – stangdon
    Mar 17, 2017 at 14:47
  • ldoceonline.com/dictionary/as-soon-as
    – Khan
    Mar 28, 2017 at 15:48
  • thefreedictionary.com/as+soon+as
    – Khan
    Mar 28, 2017 at 15:51
  • The use of the pat simple in the clause with as soon as is more common than that of the past perfect.
    – Khan
    Mar 28, 2017 at 15:58

2 Answers 2


If you want your verb form to convey, explicitly and unambiguously, the idea that you had the realization immediately after the car had (fully) started, and not rely solely on adverbial phrases to convey this idea, then you would use the past perfect:

As soon as I'd started the car, I realized that...

No sooner had we spread the picnic blanket out on the grass than it began to rain.

As soon as we had spread the tarp on the field, the rain stopped.

The spreading of the blanket on the grass was completed and then it began to rain.

The simple past, while grammatical, does not explicitly convey the idea that the action had completed. Rather that meaning is implicit in the statement in its entirety, and the meaning is not always unambiguous.


The use of the past simple with the phrase "as soon as" in the sentence in question is grammatical.

When you refer to an event or action in the past, you usually use the phrase as soon as in the simple past or sometimes the past perfect as follows:

As soon as I saw/had seen her, I knew there was something wrong.

As soon as I started/had started the car, I realized (that) there was something wrong with the engine.

You usually use the present perfect or present simple with the phrase when you talk about the future or the present, for example:

As soon as I finish/have finished my work, I'll call you.

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