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The context is a situation where I've been looking for my keys for the last a couple of minutes. First, I check the pockets of my trousers, then I check the drawers. When I was checking the drawers the thought “the keys might be on the desk” comes to my mind. Just after this thought comes my friend informs me that “The keys might be on the desk” Then, I reply to him: “I've just thought the same thing”.

I asked similar questions here before but please allow me to clarify a specific contextual tense usage that is confusing me.

A native Australian English speaker told me that using present perfect (I've just thought the same thing) is wrong in this context and that a native English speaker would always use past perfect tense idiomatically and say "I'd just thought the same thing" or "I'd just thought that".

His point is that in this context my friend's information instinctively causes me to think once again that the keys might be on the desk, therefore the thought that comes to my mind before my friend's information isn't relevant any more with the present.

On the other hand, my argument is my friend doesn’t cause me to think again. If he hadn’t said “The keys might be on the desk” I would maybe have started searching for them on the desk just after finishing searching for them in the drawer. Therefore, I had already thought the keys might be on the desk regardless of my friend’s information.

Is this true? Would native speakers never prefer to use the present perfect here and always use the past perfect? I was even told that the simple past (I just thought the same thing or I just thought that) wouldn't be preferred by a native English speaker.

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    I have just thought of x is just: present perfect. It is not past perfect. Past perfect: had thought of x. Please correct the names of the tenses. – Lambie Jan 14 '18 at 20:36
  • Lambie, in my question and content I couldn't see any wrong usage. I am asking whether past perfect is always used by native speakers. I am also asking why I cannot use present perfect. – bart Jan 14 '18 at 20:42
  • Ok, I edited your question. Either tense is fine: I've just thought the same thing (and I still do) or: at this moment, [when you my friend said this or that), I'd just thought the same thing. Both are right; they differ in meaning. – Lambie Jan 14 '18 at 20:50
  • Lambie, thanks so does this mean a native English speaker can prefer both present perfect and past perfect ? I think if the reference is the thought that comes to my mind just before my friend's information I can use present perfect; if the reference is my friend's information I can use past perfect.Is there any clear cut difference and usage? – bart Jan 14 '18 at 21:24
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A friend does something in the present, right now: I then say:

“I've just thought the same thing”. It is still true at the time I say this.

A friend does something in the present, right now: I then say:

“I'd just thought the same thing” [a few moments ago; that though occurred to me a few seconds ago]. It is no longer true at the time I say it. It happened seconds or moments ago.

  • Thanks Lambie, I agree with you. I think you native speakers don't even evaluate such subtle cognitive differences when speaking. I believe present perfect, past perfect and simple past all of them can be used interchangeblly in this context. May I kindly ask which dialect of English do you speak( American, Australian, British etc)? – bart Jan 14 '18 at 21:44
  • This question like many others here - but not all - would be the same in all varieties (variants) of English. Often, ELLers do not know when those differences apply or not. In this case, there is no difference. Not all speakers are the same but the differences in tense are the ones I pointed out. I forgot the simple past. That's fine too, and means you no longer have the actual thought in your mind. – Lambie Jan 14 '18 at 21:51
  • Lambie, thanks. What I know present perfect and simple past can be also used interchangebly. For example I was told that Americans tend to use simple past instead of present perfect such as "I just ate" instead of "I've just eaten." Can we apply same logic in my context and say "I just thought the same thing." as substitute of "I've just thought the same thing." I gues you are speaking North American English? – bart Jan 14 '18 at 22:03

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