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I hope you're all having a great day.

Isn't it dependent on your point of focus in a given sentence when choosing between the past simple and the present perfect?

For instance, if I have to choose between the two tenses in a sentence that reads:

I have watched soccer all my life, but I ___ today's match.

A) didn't watch.

B) haven't watched.

If my point of focus is the match, I will choose A meaning that the match is over. However if my point of focus is the subject I will choose B meaning that I haven't watched it yet or that I might've tapped it and I'm going to watch it later.

or am I just talking nonsense?

Thanks.

  • 2
    The second version (I haven't watched it) might often imply ...yet (but I might watch it later). It's not a necessary implication, but given didn't is a far more common choice here, most native speakers would probably assume you intended that implication if you chose to use the less common verb. Other than that, the choice of auxiliary verb doesn't affect the meaning. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 7 at 15:40
  • What do you mean when you say my point of focus is the subject as opposed to the match? (Either sentence is fine, and they mean essentially the same thing, although the previous comment is good for describing a possible subtle, but not necessary, difference between the two.) – Jason Bassford Jun 7 at 16:46
  • so if B is to be chosen, it should include Yet? – Abdelrhman Noureldeen Jun 7 at 16:50
  • Hi Jason, I am sorry, I just thought about it in that weird way. I mean that A implies that the match ended before i see it which drew my attention to the match itself. however B means that i haven't watched it YET " i may watch it online", and that TODAY is still not finished yet, which drew my attention more to " I " – Abdelrhman Noureldeen Jun 7 at 17:11
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I would choose A because it sounds more reasonable. I think the author wants to stress that he/she has watched it for a period of unfinished time (all his/her life). But "today" is finished and definite. Also, he emphasizes the action of "watch" for today instead of the experience. If someone asked "have you watched today's match? It was awesome!", then you can say "Yes. I have". It's like saying "I have been a teacher all my life, but today I retired". I want to stress the action of my retirement. I can also say "I have retired" if someone asks about my job. Different contexts though.

I hope this helps.

Reference

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