Context: I have been looking for my tootbrush for the last five minutes. Then my friend says: "Your tootbrush is in the drawer" Then I reply: " I have just thought the same thing." Thought came to my mind a moment ago, just before my friend informed me.

I'd like to ask a couple of questions with regard to this context:

  • Is it okey to use present perfect without time adverb "just"and say "I have thought the same thing"?

  • Can't I imply recency without time adverb "just" saying "I have thought the same thing."? We say similarly "I've attached..." "I've learned" etc for other verbs when constructing perfect of recent past.

  • Without just you lose the time frame. Though I think "That just occurred to me." would be better. Your example is in the present so there is no need for the perfect tense.
    – user3169
    Dec 24, 2017 at 7:18
  • See also this question.
    – tkp
    Jun 19, 2018 at 2:52

1 Answer 1


Since the thought came to you before your friend spoke, then options are (including elucidatory additional text):

I just thought the same thing, just a moment before you spoke

I had just thought the same thing, several moments before you spoke, (and then you did speak)

although I might prefer that to be:

I had just been thinking the same thing...

But the meaning changes a little if you ditch the "just":

I thought the same thing,...

I had thought the same thing,...

Both of those are setting up for something like "...but then I changed my mind"

Finally, again because the thought came before the friend, the following doesn't work for me at all:

I have just thought the same thing.

Although, harking back to one of the earlier forms, I'd be OK with:

I have just been thinking the same thing...

Contrast that with the earlier form in question:

I had just been thinking the same thing...

The difference is that the "had" version implies that some significant event then occurred (e.g. the friend arriving or speaking) prior to the present moment, whereas the "have" suggests that while thinking started prior to the present moment, it has continued into the present, and no intervening event is implied.

Sigh -- overall, though, it's bloomin' complicated. Can I suggest you just go out and buy a new toothbrush. They're not that expensive. ;-)

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