Can you please answer my comparative questions below as I am puzzled to use verb "think" with perfect aspect of present tense?

Context is a situation where I've been looking for my wallet for the last couple of minutes and my friend informs me where the wallet is. Just a minute before my friend informs me the same information comes to my mind.

Example 1

My friend: The wallet is on the desk.

Me: I have just thought the same thing.(1)

Example 2

My friend: The wallet is on the desk.

Me: I have thought the same thing.(2)

Example 3

My friend: The wallet is on the desk.

Me: I just thought the same thing.(3)

Example 4

My friend: The wallet is on the desk.

Me: I thought the same thing.(4)

Q1) Can I use (1) present perfect + time adverb just?

Q2) Can't I use (2) present perfect without time adverb just? Similarly we say "I have eaten", "I have finished" etc for the actions in recent past. Are there any differences when it comes to this context ?

Q3) Is (3) same way of saying (1) or is it semantically more related with (4)?

p.s I know there might be more idiomatic ways to answer my friend but I am just examining construction of "to think the same thing"

  • 3
    Possible duplicate of How to use phrase "think so" as perfect of recent past?
    – Andrew
    Jan 1, 2018 at 21:44
  • This exact question comes up very often on this site. Please search to find many related answers.
    – Andrew
    Jan 1, 2018 at 21:45
  • Andrew, yes thanks for your efforts once more but I believe my question here has more details to ask why present perfect tense with our without just can/cannot be preferred. "Think so" in my previous question is also an idiomatic use which can cause some confusion. I believe it is better to use "think the same thing" phrase.
    – bart
    Jan 1, 2018 at 22:35

1 Answer 1


It's not a great example to use, because if your friend is telling you it's on your desk, it's really a fact, not a "thought." If he's asking you instead of telling you, then your example makes more sense:

Is it on your desk?

Of the options you list, it would be uncommon to see #1 and especially #2, because they both imply that the thought process took place over a period of time. #4 is vague about when the thought took place. #3 is the best choice, because "just" is a simple but precise adverb.

I just had the same thought.

I just thought the same thing.

  • Ringo, let's assume my friend then says " The wallet might be on the desk" instead of "The wallet is on the desk". Then this means a thought rather than a fact. I just want to know deteils of present perfect usage more precisely in this context.
    – bart
    Jan 1, 2018 at 22:28
  • Can you please explain further why I cannot prefer (1) and (2)? If I use time adverb "just" with present perfect in this example can't I relate it with recent past? Are (1) and (2) semantically same? Do I need a strong current relevance to use (2) present perfect without just ?
    – bart
    Jan 1, 2018 at 22:45
  • If you say The wallet might be on the desk or Did you check the desk? then the statement or question could be seen as a "thought" or an "idea," something to try. This would be the same issue in any tense -- not specific to present perfect.
    – Ringo
    Jan 2, 2018 at 0:38
  • Yes, "just" makes #1 acceptable, but it's uncommon and slighty awkward, just because #3 is a much better way of saying the same thing. #2 is confusing, because have thought suggests that you have been thinking about something over a period of time or on multiple occasions, which doesn't make sense in the context of looking for a wallet for a few minutes.
    – Ringo
    Jan 2, 2018 at 0:44
  • Ringo, please allow me to clarify some more. We say "I have finished" or "I have drunk" etc. for the actions in recent past without any need to use "just". Can't I say similarly "I have thought"? Is confusion on (2) only about lack of time adverb "just" or is it about contextual meaningless of using the verb "think" with perfect aspect of present tense? Can you please explain ?
    – bart
    Jan 2, 2018 at 20:23

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