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Most of the confidences were unsought —frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon.

(The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, emphasis added)

I think it's better to write "I feigned sleep.. when I realized..."

Thanks for the example in the first answer, I feel ok about "when I have eaten apples I have gotten very sick" but how about "when I ate apples I have gotten very sick"? what's the difference between this two?

A new question: To show that I still feign sleep when I realize an intimate revelation. Isn't it better to say "frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I have realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon."

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No, it's better the way that it is, although both are possible. You might want to refer to the differences between the simple past (feigned) vs. the present perfect (have feigned).

I feigned sleep would suggest that the action was completely in the past.

I have feigned sleep suggests a connection to the present, and that maybe the action or sequence of actions is not complete yet.

For example, in

When I ate apples...

the use of the simple past ate suggests that we are talking about something that only happened in the past. You might use that like

When I ate apples, I would get very sick. But now I am on medicine so that I don't get sick any more.

But

When I have eaten apples...

suggests a connection to the present (remember that the present perfect is actually a present tense!) You might use that like

Would I like an apple? No, when I have eaten apples I have gotten very sick, so I don't think I want to eat one now.

  • I've updated the question.It would be wrong to write "when I was a child, I have eaten a lot of sweets", isn't it? It's about the difference of "feign" and "feigned" in this particular context. – user81252 Aug 28 '18 at 6:30

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