I want to ask someone if he at this moment entered the apartment. I mean he literally made his first step into the apartment at this moment. Should I say

  1. Have you just entered the apartment?
  2. Did you just enter the apartment?

Based on my knowledge in grammar, the first one should be applied. However, I hear many Americans use the second approach when they want to express some of what I want to express in this post.

  • Your "knowledge in grammar" (the first one should be applied) is quite simply wrong. Both versions are syntactically fine. But there are usage differences - depending on the general context, and the specific "main verb", among other factors. It would almost always be Did you just say (something)?. But Have you just arrived? is more common than Did you you just arrive? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Sep 26 '17 at 15:54
  • This American would almost always use #2. The reason is that the action of "entering the apartment" is complete. That makes the simple past ("did you enter") appropriate. The present perfect is (like the name says) a present tense, so it's actually asking about the person's current state. But I don't want to know about their current state, I want to know about a completed action. – stangdon Sep 26 '17 at 18:24

Both those phrases could be used to ask whether they have entered the apartment very recently. There is no grammatical way of specifying exactly how recently you are talking about, and the two questions in your example both mean "very recently". In English a common response to such a question would be

No, I have been here about half an hour.


Well, I have been here about 10 minutes.


Yes, I just got home a moment ago.

The person you are talking to may be unsure if ten minutes qualifies as "just entered". This illustrates that "just entered" in your question could be interpreted to mean anywhere from a moment ago to perhaps as much as half an hour.

English speakers will therefore often over-emphasise the shortness of the time in this case, saying something like:

Have you just entered the apartment, right now, just a moment ago?

"right now" and "a moment ago" should not really be necessary but they show the listener that the asker means "within seconds".

If you want to be more specific than that, you will have to state how long as a unit of time.

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