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I have bought some special present for my friend's birthday (29th June).

Now I am writing some sentences about the moment when she sees my present
(it has not happened yet, I am imagining).

Sentence 1:

I think she will be very happy when she sees this present.

Sentence 2:

I think she will be very happy after she has seen this present.

I want to pick sentence 1, but I think sentence 2 is also correct. I don't know which is the better.

  • Neither is preferable to the other. The first describes how you think she will feel at the moment when she sees the present. The second describes how you think she will feel after that moment has passed. – P. E. Dant Jun 26 '17 at 20:14
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P. E. Dant's answer is correct and neither sentence is more or less correct. It depends on whether you want to specify a time frame when your friend becomes happy.

However, there is some subtext around the use of the perfect tense. Because the simple future tense is sufficient, when you explicitly state that she will be happy "after she has seen this present", you suggest that she is not happy now, or perhaps has not been happy for a while.

Mary hasn't really been herself ever since her boyfriend broke up with her. I hope that she will be happy after she has seen my present.

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    Yes! That's a very important point, understood implicitly by natives, rarely pointed out explicitly, and I think rarely found in ESL learning materials. This kind of answer is why the world needs ELL! – Ben Kovitz Jun 28 '17 at 0:16
  • @BenKovitz I agree, but a reader (especially an ESL reader) might assume from this answer that the phrase "after she has seen this present" will always imply that she was unhappy beforehand. In the context of the OP's question, there is no reason to assume that her friend was unhappy. That is precisely why I did not address this in my answer: in a given context, with our emphasis on this word or that, any phrase can have a plethora of meanings. – P. E. Dant Jun 28 '17 at 1:00
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Your two sentences use two different dependent adverbial clauses to describe your thoughts about your friend's feelings from two slightly different future time perspectives.

I think she will be very happy when she sees this present.

Here the adverbial clause when she sees this present uses the simple present tense to locate the state of happiness as taking place in the precise moment when she first sees the present.

I think she will be very happy after she has seen this present.

Here the adverbial clause after she has seen this present uses the present perfect tense to locate the state of happiness as taking place during a period of unspecified duration, and beginning at the moment when she first sees the present.

Neither sentence is inappropriate, and native speakers would use either one, with perhaps a slight preference for the first.

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