Apologies about this. Unfortunately nothing showed up regarding the order until recently. I will get the single packed and sent to you this week.

I was wondering if past perfect can fit because "recently" means "before now", so past simple in term of tense. The action of "showing" is before and completed, so can I use past perFect even if until indicates it is before?

  • 3
    Yes, past perfect would be fine here. Nothing had shown up until recently. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Apr 17 '17 at 17:20

It's fine. "Unfortunately, nothing had shown up until recently" just means "nothing had shown up before these appeared."

I disagree with those above who want to use the present perfect. Do not use the present perfect here; use the simple past or past perfect. The past perfect is a little more formal here than the simple past, but both are fine; "has shown up" is wrong in the example you give. The present perfect would be fine if you were to toss the phrase "until recently": "Unfortunately, nothing has shown up [yet]."


You can use past simple and present perfect but I wouldn't recommend past perfect.

  • Past simple can be used because you state a fact from the past and there's nothing in the sentence that requires the usage of a different tense. The phrase "until recently" may seem like one but it's just a vague reference to a time period.

    Unfortunately nothing showed up regarding the order until recently.

    There is actually an example sentence using past simple in the Merriam Webster dictionary at the definition of recently: "Until recently I had no idea where I would end up finding a job."

  • Present perfect can be used because the word "recently" can be interpreted as part of the present so you'd use it almost like "until now".

    Unfortunately nothing has shown up regarding the order until recently.

    This is the case of an action in the past at an unspecified time. According to the usage of the present perfect on LearnEnglish: "We often use the present perfect with time adverbials which refer to the recent past" [...] "or adverbials which include the present"

  • Because "recently" feels like it's in the past and "until recently" actually can make it be in the past, it can be appealing to treat it like that and go for the past perfect.

    Unfortunately nothing had shown up regarding the order until recently.

    This is certainly used but there's nothing in the sentence or its context to justify it, "until recently" is not some action/event in the past, it's not a condition, hypothesis or wish, it's a vague reference to a time period. Even though past perfect is similar to present perfect, it's always used with at least two past actions/events, see the usages here and here.

  • I'm pretty sure it should be "nothing has shown up" :) – kartoniks Aug 10 '17 at 13:06
  • kartoniks: indeed. – Korvin Aug 10 '17 at 13:59
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    Present perfect is used to discuss the current state. If something has shown up, then present perfect is not appropriate. ""until recently" is not some action/event in the past" It's a point in the past. – Acccumulation Apr 9 '18 at 19:33

I'd rather use the past simple or present perfect, but for sure not past perfect.

Past Simple:

If the event is finished and no present impact. For example, if you lost your keys today in the morning, then your friend came with another key and you entered your flat, and at night you are telling your brother this story. In this case you may say "I lost my key today in the morning".

Present perfect:

If the event took place in the past, yet it has its influence or impact in the present, take the above example again. If you lost your keys, yet you can't enter you flat, then your brother called you. In this case you may tell him "I've lost my keys, and I can't open the door".

Past perfect:

I guess it doesn't work here at all. Past perfect is used to describe an event before one or more events took place in the past. Example, We had had our dinner, then my neighbour came to watch the daily TV show with us.

Hope this is useful and for more clarification, I recommend you to see these lessons on how to use tenses by Anglo-Link on the YouTube:


Regards, Ahmad,


Ignoring the irrelevant context - please! - we have nothing showed up until recently, don’t we? that's clearly the correct choice.

Nothing had shown up… would be fine if you were explaining what happened to a third party; not for talking to the customer who’s order was misplaced.

Nothing has shown up could be acceptable by itself but never with until recently; not in this context.

… nothing had shown up… can’t fit the example. had shown is very different from showed.


The past perfect -- nothing had shown up -- as another commenter noted would not be used unless it is contrasted with simple past. For instance.

The customer was annoyed because nothing had shown up.

But even then, in your example case the past perfect would not be used with 'until recently', because 'recently' makes it something with an effect in the present, so more 'present perfect' territory. In the previous example you could get rid of 'until recently' and write:

The customer was annoyed because nothing had shown up until then (or until [some specific time] e.g. the end of March).

Even though 'recently' is often present perfect territory, it still doesn't work well in your sentence. The reason is that something very clearly did show up before now. It is a completed action in the past. So basically the sentence you yourself gave is grammatically the best solution.

Nothing showed up until recently.

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