This sentence:

Lionel asked Mary if she had seen Carol at the birthday party the previous week. I’m not sure which is correct (or both are correct)

Have you seen Carol at the birthday party last week?” Lionel asked Mary.


Did you see Carol at the birthday party last week?” Lionel asked Mary.

I’m unsure of which to use. Can someone tell me the difference? Thanks!

  • 1
    You have tried to change the sentence from INDIRECT to DIRECT speech. To put the sentence into the passive voice, you need to begin by saying: Mary was asked by Lionel whether........ Have a go Jun 24, 2020 at 11:47
  • I would use Did you see, because the party happened in the past. Lionel could ask 'Have you seen Carol today?' or 'Have you seen Carol since the party last week?' Jun 24, 2020 at 13:17
  • Oops I will change that Jun 29, 2020 at 11:32

2 Answers 2


You would usually use the form with did here because the party is an event which has finished at the time of speaking. If the time specified is still current at the time of speaking you would use the form with have.

Did you see Carol at the party last week?


Have you seen Carol at the party? (which is still happening now)
Have you seen Carol on television? (at any time up to the present)


In the real world, you don't have to worry about being grammatically correct in direct speech; if you're quoting Lionel, you quote whatever he said, even if it was ungrammatical.

If you're writing dialogue using direct speech, you should write what your character would say. That's probably what is grammatically correct at the time of the speech.

"Have you seen" is past perfect, which is used when discussing something before some reference point. In indirect speech, it's appropriate to use past perfect because the question is whether Mary saw Carol before Lionel asked; Lionel asking is the reference point. But in direct speech, Lionel asking isn't a past reference point; it is, for Lionel, the present.

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