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I have a doubt in the below sentence whether to use Past Simple or Present Perfect Tense,

We have despatched the parcel yesterday.

We despatched the parcel yesterday.

I know the second one is right because the parcel was despatched yesterday which means the action is completed (Past Tense).

But what about the first sentence, because the parcel was despatched, however the parcel is not reached the customer yet. So is it ok to use "have despatched" in the sentence (Present Perfect) in the mail to inform the customer?

marked as duplicate by user178049, Varun Nair, Tyler James Young, Nathan Tuggy, Mari-Lou A Nov 29 '17 at 8:31

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • Yesterday is a time adverb and modifies the verb, hence, as learner, I think the first sentence it's wrong. – Cardinal Nov 28 '17 at 3:48
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We have despatched the parcel yesterday. is not possible as we usually do not give a specific time when using the present perfect. Basically, present perfect does not say 'when' something happened.

However, we can indicate time when saying 'how long' something has happened / has been happening (with for / since): e.g. He has lived here for 10 years / He has lived here since 2007.

We can also use present perfect with 'when' in a question when expressing surprise: e.g. When have you ever finished a project on time? (the speaker is expressing surprise or disbelief)

We can also use present perfect with a time expression if the time period has not yet finished (time expression must include the present): e.g. How many bottles of beer have you drunk this evening? (but not How many bottles of beer have you drunk last night?)

  • From your last paragraph, I understand that it is ok to use "have" if the action has started today and include the Present. So, is it ok to say "We have despatched the parcel today morning" – Raj 33 Nov 28 '17 at 4:54
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    In your comment example, you can use either past simple or present perfect (I guess past simple is more common, but some people might say present perfect is more correct / formal). Using past simple, though, can make the action sound 'more complete'. Another thing, we don't usually say 'today morning' - 'this morning' is much more common for native speakers. – user63422 Nov 28 '17 at 5:52
  • @Raj33 you accepted this answer, (I can see when) so why are you still confused? And why did you post virtually the same question a few hours ago? (Past Simple = an action completed at a specific point in time) – Mari-Lou A Nov 29 '17 at 8:51
  • @Mari-Lou A, Sorry for the inconvenience caused to you. I'm just one week new to this site. I don't know why accepted this answer. May be for this statement that helped me to understand a little more about the topic - "we usually do not give a specific time when using the present perfect". This is a good answer but this didn't fully answered my question "the parcel was despatched, however the parcel is not reached the customer yet. So is it ok to use -have despatched- in the sentence". Anyhow thanks. Now I'm clear. – Raj 33 Nov 29 '17 at 17:13
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With time markers such as yesterday, two days ago, last week, a month ago, a year ago we can't use the Present Perfect tense. You can either use the Past Simple or the Past Perfect (if an action happened before another action in the past)

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