We use the present perfect to talk about past actions with the present results, so the first question is this:

Once these present results could be feelings and emotions, and intangible things, can't they come from the action itself, or even the cause of the action?

The second question is:

Did I use the present perfect in the following sentence correctly

I've received a message.

I have used it because the message is available now and I can see it right now.

So, is the use of the present perfect tense correct or should there be a different tense, indicating stronger result?

  • The present perfect is completely correct in your example. I'm not sure what you mean by "stronger result", though.
    – stangdon
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 22:35
  • 1
    I mean When i say i've received a message. Now can see the message, so thats the result is it right ? Or for example i should say : " I've received a message, i have to replay before i play with you " so that is the stronger result i'm talking about. So which one is more correct ? Or both of the are ? 😅
    – Abc
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 5:03
  • Yes, your use of present perfect is correct. **I'm not sure about what you mean when you ask your question, "Once these....of the action?" I think you're over-thinking the use of present perfect [PrePer]. If you want to use PrePer to show an effect on the present: Just think of it as similar to simple past except that it is important now whereas the simple past has no connection to the present. -We can't say that one is more correct than the other because it all depends on what you want to say. If you want the focus to be on the present or to show a connection to the present then use PrePer
    – lina
    Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 5:39

1 Answer 1


I do wonder sometimes at the 'rules' that people get taught for when to use what tense in English. They usually seem to work well for the examples used in teaching, but lead you down a misleading path as you get further into the language.

The perfect aspect, found in the present, past and future aspects, represents actions at are complete at the time of the sentence (past, present or future). It also puts a focus on the results of the action. The progressive aspect is about actions that are ongoing at the time of the sentence. The simple aspect, when the tense is neither perfect nor progressive, expresses fact - either about a specific action or a general or habitual truth.

When you say "I've received a message" you are saying that you have fully received it - you aren't in the process of receiving it - and putting focus on the result, the fact you have the message. In the same situation, you could also say "I received a message", which is a statement of fact without focus on the result, and is the past simple form. You might be meaning to focus on the fact of receiving, rather than on having the message.

Neither tense indicates any 'strength' of result. Neither indicates whether there is a result still ongoing or effective at the time of the sentence. It just focuses the result. There can also be differences of nuance between past simple and present perfect, but that can depend a great deal on the verb in question, and the subject. For example:

I knew the way from home to school.

This says that, at that time, you knew the way - it doesn't suggest you know it now, nor that you don't.

I knew love, once.

This suggests that you no longer know love.

I have known love.

This suggests that at some point you knew love, and may or may not know it now.

What tense to use is a much simpler, and yet more complex matter than a lot of teaching suggests.

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