Which tense is correct here? Past Perfect or Present Perfect?

A: I went out. B: (surprised) Have you finished your homework?

A: I went out. B: (surprised) Had you finished your homework. It's about finishing the homework before going out. Can I use also Present Perfect? It sounds okay to me but I need natives' opinion.

1 Answer 1


As you state yourself, the distinction between the two tenses concerns the time when the homework was finished.

So, let us surmise that this conversation takes place at 19.00, that A went out at 18.00 and that A had started doing his/her homework at 17.00.

(Note the use of had to emphasise the sequence of events.)

In example 1, B asks A whether his/her homework is NOW (at 19.00) complete.

In example 2, B asks A whether his/her home WAS complete (by 18.00) when A went out.

Both constructions are correct. They just mean different things.

B might also have asked A:

Did you finish your homework

but this wouldn't make it clear whether the work had been completed before or after A went out.

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