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  1. After I have learned English for three months, I met an American on a street.

  2. After learning English for three months, I met an American on a street.

Which one is right in grammar, or more accurate?

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  • Welcome to ELL. Take some time to read our tour and Help Center pages, and also our Details, Please meta post. This will help you write a good question. Please use the edit link to tell us what you don't understand about your two sentences. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jun 12 '17 at 4:31
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    I know the choice is between have learned and learning, but let's approach this from another angle. You can think of the present perfect (here, have learned) as extending from the past up to the present moment of speaking. You cannot say that you did something after the present moment, as the time after the present moment has not happened yet. If you want to talk about the future, you must use the future tense: After I have studied English for three months, I will go to London. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 12 '17 at 11:09
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    Correct is: After studying English for three months, I met an American on a street. Your usage of the verb learning is non-native because learning implies something completed whereas studying is something in progress. Correct could be: After studying English for three months and learning some basic conversational phrases, I met an American on the street. – Brillig Jun 12 '17 at 15:08
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I'm not sure, but it might be worth pointing out, that in English, we don't typically use "learned" as a synonym for "studied." So even after correcting your grammar, your meaning might be getting lost.

Anyway, I think what you might be trying to say is this: "After I'd been studying English for three months, I met an American on the street."

When we use the verb "learn" in the past tense, we usually mean something we have mostly mastered. It is usually only while we are still in the process of learning that we use it as a synonym for studying.

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In your sentence you would have to use "after learning", because you use the past tense for "met".


"After" + present perfect indicates a verb that will happen in the future:

After I have learned English, I will visit the UK.

After this pot of spaghetti has boiled for seven minutes, it must be drained.


"After" + gerund can go with any logical time. It doesn't insist on when the thing happened, happens, or will happen; all we know is that the next verb takes place after that.

Past
After learning English, I met an American on the street.

Present
After eating breakfast, I usually go for a run.

Future
After buying a plot of land, I will build a cottage.

In fact, it works like a noun phrase ("after my English course", "after breakfast", "after the purchase").

This also works with a present progressive perfect:

After having learned English, I met an American on the street.


For your sentence, you could also use "After" + simple past, or "After" + past perfect. This indicates a verb that happened in the past.

Simple past
After I learned English, I met an American on the street.

Past perfect
After I had learned English, I met an American on the street.

There are other threads dealing with the differences between these two tenses, but for now I'll just say that I find the second one a little more natural for this context.

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