When would you say "I fell over." and "I've fallen over."? Consider these situations:

  1. You're still on the ground.
  2. You just got up.
  3. People saw your bruised knee and asked what happened.
  • 1
    The famous: "Help, I've fallen and I can't get up." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ve_fallen,_and_I_can%27t_get_up! May 11 '17 at 22:42
  • "I fell over" is said or written as a pass tense, and usually means that the person is not in danger at the moment. On the other hand, "I've fallen over" usually means someone is still on the ground and asking for help or stating their current position. For example, the Life Call commercial.
    – Anibanani
    May 11 '17 at 22:50
  • 1
    What happened: You fell down (not over). Fell is past tense. Fall is present tense.
    – Xanne
    May 13 '17 at 7:04

Fallen implies you are still in that condition. "I have fallen over" means you're lying on the ground and need to get up.

Fell is past tense and indicates something that happened previously, regardless of your current condition.

So, say you're at a party and have had a bit too much to drink. You fall over. You're lying on the ground wondering why everyone is sideways. "Oh," you realize, "I've fallen over." That explains your current situation. Before you figure out you need to get up, your mate comes by and asks why you're on the ground like that. Referring to what happened in the past, you tell him, "I fell over." He helps you up and you realize you're bleeding because you fell on top of and broke a glass table. When the ambulance shows up, you explain that "I fell over," even though, now, you're standing (more or less) upright.

Note that there are other contexts where this changes: Some years later, your friend asks you (because he was too drunk to remember that party), "Have you ever fallen over?" and you might reply "Yes, I have fallen over. Remember that party?"

Edit: In response to a comment... present perfect refers to the present or recent past (or a time frame that stretches to the recent past):

We tend to use the Present Perfect when reporting or announcing an event of the recent past:

The company's current CEO has lied repeatedly to her employees.

But we tend to use the Simple Past when reporting or announcing events of the finished, more distant past:

Washington encouraged his troops.


See the referenced page for a simple explanation and more examples.

  • I've read and re-read that the present perfect refers to the effects something has in the present. If that's true, could I say to my friend I've fallen over as well?
    – Judy
    May 11 '17 at 22:24
  • Yes, if as @Roger Sinsohn says, you're still on the floor.
    – Xanne
    Jun 11 '17 at 3:11

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