I know that we use "yet" with Present Perfect in interrogative and negative sentences. And "already" is used in affirmative statements. Despite that fact I have found one sentence:

"What have you already done today?"

Is it correct?

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    Both (1) Have you done it yet? and (2) Have you done it already? are perfectly natural forms. The primary difference is that #1 implies the questioner thinks you either have or should have already done it, whereas with #2 the implication is he wasn't expecting you to have done it yet. Note that in the preceding sentence here, highlighted yet could be replaced by already, but the converse (replacing highlighted already by yet) would not be acceptable. Mar 20, 2017 at 15:31
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    The example question seems technically correct but also seems awkwardly phrased (at least to my ear). I would simply write, "What have you done today?"
    – David K
    Mar 20, 2017 at 18:17
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    Despite what fact? Where does it say 'already' is only used in affirmative statements?
    – user207421
    Mar 20, 2017 at 19:29
  • @DavidK, I took it into account Mar 21, 2017 at 13:16

2 Answers 2


An NPI (negative polarity item) is a term restricted to negative contexts, and a PPI (positive polarity item) is one restricted to positive contexts.

Yet is the NPI corresponding to the PPI already.

Questions may be positive or negative; for instance, if you are asking about the status of a completed task:

  • Haven't you done that yet? is what you would ask if you expected the task to be finished but had reason to believe that it was not.

  • Have you done that yet? is what you would ask if you had no expectation and no evidence that in fact it was completed.

  • Have you done that already? is what you would ask if you expected the task to be unfinished but had evidence that in fact it was finished.

In your example, the question is positive: it asks about what you have done, not what you have left undone.

  • Great explanation. Very clear explanation. Thank you. Mar 21, 2017 at 13:27

The question is correct.

"Already" means "before now" and suggests that the fact is at least a little surprising or exceeds normal expectation, or at least is some new information to the person spoken to. Often, it means that something's not necessary, because it's been taken care of before now.

  • I've already eaten lunch.
  • Thank you, but I already have a ticket to that show.
  • I'm only twelve and I'm already a millionaire.

Asking "Have you already brushed your teeth?" suggests that I was going to ask you to brush your teeth, but if you've already brushed them, it's not necessary now.

"What have you already done today?" suggests that I want to know what you've done today, with a sense that it's no longer necessary, or that it was done sooner than normal.

Both "Have you done that already?" and "Have you done that yet?" are Present Perfect, but the "already" example is about a result of a past action (you've done it, so it's finished), and the "yet" example is reviewing the time up to now and asking whether you did something in that time.

Also, you may find "already" added to a question or command to express impatience. This is a little different and "already" usually comes at the end.

  • Have you finished the dishes, already? (Someone is frustrated that the dishes aren't done yet.)
  • Well, do it, already! (Impatient!)
  • Will you please tell me what you want, already? (Frustration!)

You can often judge whether this other meaning is intended from tone and/or context. It can sound rude when the speaker isn't already on familiar speaking terms.


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