We _____________ our breakfast half an hour ago.

  1. finished (Simple Past)
  2. have finished (Present Perfect)
  3. had finished (Past Perfect)
  4. None

I chose the "have finished", but the answer is "finished". Why?

  • 1
    5. "would have finished", if you had to interrupt your breakfast or something changed its usual "flow".
    – xDaizu
    Jun 26, 2017 at 11:12
  • 6
    Well, we can be sure it's not 4. "We none our breakfast half an hour ago." doesn't sound right.
    – xDaizu
    Jun 26, 2017 at 11:13
  • If I were to have made this test question I'd add "will finish", "will have finished", "were finishing", "are finishing", "have been finishing", "had been finishing" and "will have been finishing". Jun 26, 2017 at 15:00
  • 1
    I would also assert that any of those answers could be correct depending on the preceding and following sentances. Jun 26, 2017 at 16:00

2 Answers 2


"Finished" is correct because it is the Past Simple.

We use the Past Simple to speak about events that happened in the past.

"Have finished" isn't correct because it is the Present Perfect. An hour ago is in the past (a past time) and isn't connected to the present anyhow. If it were still happening it would be correct.


  • We have finished our breakfast and are now ready to leave. (Have finished just now and we can do other things)

We do not use the present perfect with an adverbial which refers to past time which is finished.

  • 4
    As for that bit about “connecting to the present,” it might be helpful to include an example. Had the exam question read: We _________ our breakfast and now we are ready to leave, then #2 (have finished) would be a viable answer.
    – J.R.
    Jun 26, 2017 at 9:31
  • 10
    "We had finished out breakfast half an hour ago" might be acceptable if you were recounting a story to someone. For example: "We weren't hungry at that point; we had finished our breakfast half an hour ago."
    – SGR
    Jun 26, 2017 at 10:51
  • @SGR Also: "Sorry I didn't take you with me when I went for ice-cream, kids, I didn't want to interrupt your breakfast" "Interrupt? We had (already) finished our breakfast half an hour ago!"
    – xDaizu
    Jun 26, 2017 at 11:18
  • While the above is certainly correct, 'have finished' works in a certain context. "Have you finished your breakfast?" "Yes. We have finished our breakfast half an hour ago" suggests not only have we finished our breakfast, but also we're rather irritated that you haven't noticed that fact yet - although in that context 'have finished our breakfast' might more properly be enclosed in quotation marks or otherwise italicised.
    – Strawberry
    Jun 26, 2017 at 12:30

It should be noted that point of time in the past indicates that action took place at a point in the past (definite point of time). The point of time is expressed by: since, ever since, last, yesterday, ago, back, etc.

1) She returned two days ago.
2) We finished breakfast half-hour ago.

The past perfect is usually used to indicate the ‘past in the past’. In other words, when we refer to two past activities we may put the one occurring first in the past perfect as in “When I reached the railway station, the train had left

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .