1. Could you explain it's possible to use the Past Simple with key word "recently" or must always be the Present Perfect?

  2. I have two sentences. Is the first sentence wrong? If I use the Past Simple I can write "Did you have a holiday last time?", but not "Did you have a holiday recently?", is it?

Did you have a holiday recently?


Have you had a holiday recently?


  • "Have you been on holiday recently?" is idiomatic. Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 20:08

2 Answers 2


In my (British) English, both are pefectly good, and usable in exactly the same situations. The difference is in how the speaker is choosing to structure the temporal relationships: in the first they are choosing to treat "having a holiday" as an event complete in the past. In the second they are choosing to treat "having a holiday" as occupying a portion of the time stretching from whatever the limits of "recently" might be, up to the present.

I think this is the same for other Englishes, but I am not 100% sure.

  • For example, you meet your colleague at work and you want to know when he was on holiday. Which variant will you choose to ask the question? Thanks.
    – Sergei
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 19:33
  • Either. Have you had is probably more common, especially if it is still the holiday season. But Did you have is always possible.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 20:18

In addition to Colin's answer I would add:

Did you do/have something..... is more likely in a follow-up question or as part of a continuing conversation.

A: >I spotted a bear near the top of the mountain last week.
B: >Did you really climb the mountain?
A: >No, I took the cable car!

Or, it is used in posing a question about a particular event:

Did you see the fireworks display last night?
Did you hear the result of the big match?
Did you know that he has been fired?

Have you.... is a more likely to be a neutral question?

Have you ever travelled overseas?
Have you had a holiday in Greece?
Have you seen the latest movie?

But, as Colin says, they are frequently interchangeable.

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