What do you think of my analysis of the present perfect and simple past when indicating some form of time such as "This morning, this afternoon etc"

"Have you spoken to her today?" "Did you speak to her today?" (I believe the first one is correct as the day has not ended yet.)

"Have you seen Maria this morning?" "Did you see Maria this morning?" (I believe the first one only works if the morning has not yet come to an end.)

  • None of your examples is wrong. There are many cases where present perfect and simple past are essentially interchangeable.
    – The Photon
    Dec 14, 2020 at 6:31
  • In British English "Have you..." would be normal in this context, but American usage may vary. Dec 14, 2020 at 9:27

1 Answer 1


The basic answer is yes, your analysis is correct.

Of course, as you use English more, you will discover exceptions. For example, you can easily imagine a context where Did you speak to Anna today? can be used: in the evening, maybe you have come home from work and are talking to your spouse, so it is unlikely that you will still speak to your coworker Anna again today, and so the simple past can be used.

Another exception: The simple past is often used in American English where it is supposedly nonstandard. But this isn't the place to go into detail; here is a link (not necessarily the best link, just one of the first serach results on Stack Exchange) if you are interested.

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