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  1. He just fired his assistant.

  2. He's (he has) just fired his assistant.

(Don't know if it's relevant, but he fired his assistant minutes before this is being said.)

  • Which is technically correct?

  • If both, what's the difference between them?

  • Which is (more) natural?

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They're both grammatically correct.

One difference to me, as a native speaker, is that "He just fired his assistant" sounds less casual and more serious/respectful than "He's just fired his assistant."

The first one is more natural in a typical casual or professional conversation.

If you're speaking from a position of authority or judgement over the man, then "He's just fired his assistant" would sound natural as well.

If you're speaking of the man in a casual way, with a hint of condescension or head-shaking at his behavior, as if you've had to deal with multiple strange incidents from him, in the sense of "and now he's just fired his assistant too" then "He's just fired his assistant" would sound natural in that case.

"He has just fired his assistant" without the contraction, is different from both of the previous sentences. It's not the most natural choice for a casual conversation, but it is formal, and can be natural in a formal conversation.

Source: My personal experience.

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  • You don't say in your profile where you are, but to me (in the UK) the second would be more natural and the first sounds American. Others may disagree. – Kate Bunting Mar 20 at 9:35
  • You may be right about it sounding more natural in British English. – Rubrud Mar 20 at 14:27
  • The only part of this answer I can endorse is the very first sentence. Apart from that, I see no reason to distinguish between just did and has just done - the word just automatically forces the "very recently, therefore relevant to time of utterance" associates for both versions (that would otherwise only attach to the Present Perfect form). But note this earlier answer showing how usage (not meaning) has changed over time. – FumbleFingers Mar 20 at 17:44
  • The differences that I mentioned are just how they sound to me as a native speaker, not grammatical rules or anything. I put that in since the questioner wanted to know how to sound natural. – Rubrud Mar 20 at 17:52
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From looking at this website: English Tenses

He fired his assistant is the simple past tense. The action happened in the past but no information is conveyed about how long ago in the past.

He has fired his assistant is the present perfect simple tense. The action happened recently in the past, or the action had some influence on the present, so it is emphasized.

The adverb "just" provides more information about the recency of the firing, namely that it happened very recently.

Either sentence is "correct" to describe a firing that happened in the past, but if you want to emphasize the fact that it happened quite recently I would say "He has just fired his assistant." But having more context would be good; there can be different implications about the recency, intentions, justifications, etc. based on which word is stressed.

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