Although I think they are interchangeable in some usage, there seems to be a little difference in nuance.

"I had my dinner already" vs "I have eaten my dinner already"

"We have met before" vs "We met before"

I honestly can't find the difference between them in both examples. Can you please tell me what sounds more natural and explain if possible?

Thank you!

  • Those aren't simple past vs past perfect. They are simple past vs present perfect. Also, in the first example the verb being used is different; if you want it to be simple past vs present perfect with the same verb, it would be "I ate my dinner already" vs "I have eaten my dinner already".
    – SamBC
    Feb 19, 2019 at 9:50

1 Answer 1


They are nearly interchangeable, with only small nuanced differences.

"We have met before" vs "We met before"

A few reasons to possibly prefer "We have met before":
1. "we met before" is brief and abrupt. Adding more words makes it sound more friendly.
2. emphasizing the positive nature of the statement. Have we ever met?? Yes, we have met before. (instead of haven't)

Comparing "I had my dinner already" vs "I have eaten my dinner already"

If someone were angry, they'd probably choose simple words, the simple past, "I had my dinner already". If the conversation were polite and cordial, they might say "I have eaten my dinner already, but we could still sit together." The present perfect sounds more refined. However, these differences are subtle. You could even swap around those two sentences, the "supposedly" angry and polite versions, and it would still be alright.

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