I hope you sent or have sent the right book .

I used past simple because before replying to them I received this email"Your order was sent yesterday" so I am wondering if they sent the right book. I think past simple is better because the action, at the time of my reply, is completed and belongs to the past.

But would it change if the email received was "Your order has been sent" could I use in this case present perfect

May be both are ok

  • 1
    Forget about "because". There's no particular reason to favour either tense here. - just use whichever you fancy. Unless you're talking about a book which would have been sent a very long time ago (if it was in fact ever sent, but you still don't know that even now), in which case there would be no significant "relevance to time of utterance", so you would not use the Present Perfect form. Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


The action being completed at the time of writing is in present perfect tense. The past tense is about a distinct time in the past, like yesterday or an our ago.

I strongly suggest you to check this on EnglishPage, where they explain this in text and they show how it happens in time. Check the menu on the left: they cover all tenses.

What they say (your order was sent yesterday) is in past tense because it's in exact time. What you intend to reply (I hope you have sent the right book) is in simple perfect, because you don't mention any specific time but just the action completed. You need to choose tenses from your perspective. But, because you can assume that both you and the sender know, when exactly the book was sent, you can still use past simple. So, it's your choice.

  • but the email received was " your order was sent yesterday" so I thought past simple would be good for my reply
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 16:56
  • @user5577, I edited my answer.
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 17:06
  • "The action being completed at the time of writing is in present perfect tense" - but the action of sending something yesterday is also complete at a time of writing.
    – user107943
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 19:46
  • that is why both tenses are possible?
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented Feb 28, 2020 at 21:38
  • @user5577, Both you and the sender are aware that the email was sent/recieved 1) at a certain exact time (past tense) and that the email has ben sent/received (present perfect). So you can choose either tense. I would just say: use the one you feel more comfortable with.
    – Jan
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 12:05

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