Is there any semantic difference between "Did you already" and "Have you already" questions?

For example:

1a) Did you already do your homework?

1b) Have you already done your homework?

2a) Did you already draw that picture?

2b) Have you already drawn that picture?

3a) Did you already clean my room?

3b) Have you already cleaned my room?

4a) Did you already return your debt?

4b) Have you already returned your debt?

5a) Did you already go to that café?

5b) Have you already gone to that café?


Remark: I am asking specifically about questions containing adverb "already".

1 Answer 1


With "already", they mean the same thing. The function implied by "already" is "a completed action in the past with present result". The difference between the two types is Americans tend to prefer the simple past version, while everyone else --including Canadians-- prefers the present perfect.

The only exception is with 5. "Go" has two different present perfect forms, each with its own meaning: "have you gone" means "have you left/departed", while "have you been" means "have you gone and come back". For example, "He has gone to the grocery store" means "He has left for the grocery store and not come back yet." Compare that with "He has been to the grocery store", which literally means "He has gone and returned from the grocery store", but most likely has the intent of, "He has done the grocery shopping."

So your question 5b) means, "Have you already left home for the café?" while your intended meaning was probably, "Have you already visited and experienced that café?", which is naturally expressed by, "Have you already been to that café?"

And to be clear, the word "already" doesn't change the grammar rules or meanings of simple past vs. present perfect. In this context all it does it make totally unambiguous what the intended function is.

  • 8
    I generally agree with this but dispute the semantic difference between "gone" and "been" in common UK usage, insofar as your example. I would happily say or hear "have you gone to the shops" to be the same as "have you been to the shops" with or without "already". The fact that I can ask you the question implies you are here to hear it. In other contexts there is more difference - "Alice has gone to the shops" might explain her absence and implies she has not yet returned (but not definitively); "Alice has been to the shops" might explain her tiredness but definitely means she came back.
    – AdamV
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 11:52
  • 1
    @AdamV - Note that in all your examples "shops" is plural, while in my example "café" is singular. Your examples, unlike mine, seem to be about some regular and habitual activity with multiple departures and returns.
    – brilliant
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 12:02
  • 1
    @AdamV If I head out for a walk while my wife is busy with work, she may sometimes ring/message me — "Have you gone to the shops?" (If I say 'yes', she might say "Can you pick up milk/bread/eggs?"). In that usage, "Have you been to the shops?" wouldn't be natural IMO. Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 15:29
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    @brilliant No, the difference is not about singular or plural, or about a habitual activity or not. There is a difference between "Alice has gone to London" and "Alice has been to London". In the first sentence she is still in London now. In the second sentence she went to London at some time in the past, but is now somewhere else. In the second sentence, she may have only traveled to London once in her life - for example she might live in Australia, but visited London once while on holiday!
    – alephzero
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 20:17
  • @alephzero - You don't seem to have gotten my point. I was answering to AdamV who rightly pointed out that there may not be difference between "Have you gone to the shops?" and "Have you been to the shops?" when the meaning is "Have you had any shopping experience?", that is, without specifying one particular place of shopping (because which place is not important). However, if it's one particular place (like café or London in your example), then there's definitely a difference between "gone" and "been".
    – brilliant
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 23:06

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