In my other post (Are "directly" and "immediately" interchangeable in some situations?) I said

I went through a nice tutorial if and whether: indirect questions on Cambridge grammar just now.

Actually, I am not sure whether I used the right tense.

I was trying to convey the fact that I have studied the question a lot, which is what is supposed to be done before any inquirer brings forward a question.

Beside that, I was also trying to convey that I did my research just before I proposed that question.

In this context, which tense should I use to correspond to "just now", past simple or present perfect?

1 Answer 1


Since "just now" indicates the past (the very near past, but still past), you need a verb tense that indicates the past, but except for that, you can actually use pretty much any past-implying tense you want. In some situations they may have slightly different nuances, though:

I went through it just now (simple past)

This is pretty neutral. It just says an event occurred, and that the time you did it was just before "now". It does have a bit of an implication that the action didn't take very long to complete.

I have gone through it just now (present perfect)

This and simple past are pretty similar, but present perfect does have more of a feeling that it may have taken a bit longer to actually do the task (you had been working on it up to just now, when you finished).

I had gone through it just now (past perfect)

What this says is that the completion of the task happened in the past, but that that past point was "just now" (just a few moments ago). This is similar to the present perfect, but it usually implies that it was perhaps something you were doing anyway, for unrelated reasons, and it's just coincidence that you happened to finish your task just now.

I was going through it just now (past continuous)

Again, this has the feeling that you just happened to be doing it anyway, but it also has the implication that you haven't completed it yet. This may also suggest that it's not a task you really see as having a "completion" (that is, you were just going through it aimlessly, without a particular purpose in mind).

I have been going through it just now (present perfect continuous)

This says that you have been working on it up until just now, and has more of a deliberate sense to it (you're doing it for some reason), but also implies that you're not finished with it yet, and will presumably keep working on it in the future.

I had been going through it just now (past perfect continuous)

This suggests that you were going through it, with some purpose, but that you didn't finish, but that you also might not actually go back and finish it later. (For example, it would have been present perfect continuous, but then you changed your mind and decided not to keep working on it later after all)

Note that many of these meanings are just variations on the implications that these verb tenses have in general, and not really anything specific to the "just now" part. "just now" just serves to anchor the past point in time very close to the present, so some of the perfect forms (which imply the past more strongly) tend to be interpreted more as a sense of "coincidence" rather than a sense of "a long time ago". Also, since it's tied more closely to the present, some of the "unfinished" aspects to the continuous forms can be a bit stronger than they might be otherwise, but other than that it's not particularly special.

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