This is an exercise from my English book:

You three boys look very guilty! What did you do / have you done / have you been doing since I left / have left?

I chose have you been doing and have left. But the correct answer for the second option is left. Why is that? I thought past perfect was used after since.

1 Answer 1

  1. What have you been doing since I left?
  2. What did you do after I left?
  3. What have you done since I left?

are all correct and natural, in my opinion. "had left" would seem awkward and unnatural to me in any of the three examples above. In fact i can't think of a natural sentence using "since I had left" to indicate a point in time.

Since i had left, i didn't hear the speech.

is valid, but in that case "since" means "because" and does not specify a point in time.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary's article on "since"

When since introduces an action or event at a point of time in the past, we can use the past simple or present perfect after since and the present perfect in the main clause.


When since introduces a state in the past that is still continuing in the present, we use a present perfect form of the verb after since and a present perfect form of the verb in the main clause:

"Since I’ve been back at work, I’ve been feeling great."

(The Cambridge article includes additional examples, which I did not copy here.)

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