— Here you are at last! Where have you been?

— I’ve been fishing. I’ve caught a big fish.

— What fish did you catch?

— I caught a salmon.

— Where were you when you caught it? (Or should it be "Where have you been when you caught it"? Or both are correct? My teacher suggested to me this option but I'm not sure if it's right)

— I was at the lake. (or I’ve been at the lake?)

  • 2
    Yours shows a perfect understanding of the switch from present perfect to a simple past in a dialogue. – Lambie Apr 26 at 13:51
  • 1
    I’ve been fishing. I’ve caught a big fish. You wouldn't normally use the Present Perfect for the second sentence there unless you're currently showing the other person the fish which you caught (or some similar context to justify the "relevant to time of utterance" aspect of Present Perfect). In most contexts, you'd normally use Simple Past I caught a big fish. – FumbleFingers Apr 26 at 14:52
  • The most natural way of phrasing this is really, "Where did you catch it?" – Canadian Yankee Apr 26 at 17:43

Where have you been when you caught it

If your teacher suggested you use this version, you should stop learning from him/her.

The sentence is ungrammatical. "When you caught it" tells you that the situation took place entirely in the past, in which case, the present perfect is excluded. It should be "where were you when you caught it".

"I have been at the lake" is also impossible here, since the whole discourse is about a situation that happened in the past.

  • I thought as much. I contradicts to everything I know about the present perfect continuous. – Rusletov Apr 26 at 13:21
  • @Rusletov "Where have you been" is not a present perfect continuous; it is present perfect. Present perfect continuous is something like "How long have you been living here". In that case, the situation started in the past and but it is still continuing in the present as a state. – user178049 Apr 26 at 13:24
  • Oh shoot, thanks. I've mixed them accidentally. Yeah, I know the difference. – Rusletov Apr 26 at 13:27

I’ve caught a big fish.

While not the part of the conversation you asked about, this is non-standard.

I’ve been fishing. I caught a big fish.

This would be a better way to say it

  • Is it expressed in past simple because "I caught a big fish [while I was fishing]" is implied? – Rusletov Apr 26 at 14:12

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