Suppose there was a festival this weekend and today is beginning of hte next week, do i ask "What song did you sing at the festival" or "What song have you sung at the festival?"What if it's one month after the festival? If it's a year or more after the festival it'd be simple past but this recent past thing makes things a bit complicated.

Thanks in advance.

  • 1
    Why would it ever be have?
    – tchrist
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 16:46
  • 2
    Present perfect does not mean "recent past", Commented May 11, 2017 at 16:47
  • Even after a year, you might ask a friend what songs worked in the past. You might be suggesting repeating them, using similar genres, or taking a fresh approach: "What songs have you sung at the festival in past years?" Commented May 11, 2017 at 16:53
  • Rule of thumb: use simple past tense wherever it can be used grammatically and without sounding awkward. That keeps things simple!
    – English Student
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 17:35
  • This has nothing to do with grammar, but to me the two questions have different meanings. The first refers to a specific performance, presumably (without further context) the most recent one. What [specific] song did you sing at the festival [last weekend]? is different from [Generally speaking,] What song[s] have you sung at the festival [in the past]? Commented May 11, 2017 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


Both are grammatically correct (although plural is needed for "have sung, imo), but I would use them in different contexts.

A : Last night at the karaoke bar, I did so well that people stood up and cheered me on.
B : What song did you sing?

B is asking the specific song that A was singing when they cheered him on.

A : I used to hang out at the karaoke bar all the time. I must have gone through the entire songbook.
B : What songs have you sung?

B is asking for a list of songs that A has sung over a long period of time, he's not asking about a specific instance.

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