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I am terribly sorry I think I have broken/broke your watch when I dropped it off !

think present perfect is better to emphasize the fact that she does not work now . Am I right ?

  • I think "broke" will work just fine here. – holydragon Jul 9 '18 at 9:52
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The present perfect should not be used if you are specifying a time when the action occurred. So the grammatically correct use would be:

I am terribly sorry, I think I broke your watch when I dropped it.

or

I am terribly sorry, I think I have broken your watch.

Because it does not matter whether or not you specify a time when you use the past tense, the following sentence would also be acceptable.

I am terribly sorry, I think I broke your watch.

I also wanted to say a something about the phrase 'dropped it off'. If by this you mean that you delivered his watch to a particular location, then this phrase is perfectly acceptable. In this case you can ignore the rest of this answer. However, if you meant that you had dropped the watch off something (eg a desk) and it fell to the ground, then the phrase 'dropped it off' should not be used.

'To drop off' is a specific idiom in English, which can be used in several ways, but oddly, by itself, it does not mean 'to accidentally drop something.' This link will take you to a site that explains the use of the idiom Drop Off.

If you accidentally dropped the watch then you can say:

I broke your watch when I dropped it.

or

I broke your watch when I dropped it off the table.

In both sentences 'dropped' is a verb'. In the second sentence 'off the table' is a prepositional phrase that modifies the verb 'dropped'. 'Have broken' cannot be used in either sentence because both sentences specify when the action occurred.

What you cannot say is"

I broke your watch when I dropped it off.

In this case 'dropped off' is a phrasal verb, so 'off' cannot be used as part of a prepositional phrase.

If you meant that you had delivered the watch somewhere, you could say:

I broke your watch when I dropped it off.

or

I broke your watch when I dropped it off at your place.

In both sentences 'dropped off' is being used as a phrasal verb. In the second sentence 'at your place' is a prepositional phrase that modifies the verbal phrase 'dropped off'. Once again, you cannot use 'have broken' with either of these sentences.

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