I found a sentence in a certain online test. It has been created by native English speakers, so I believe its grammar must be correct.

Now, here is a sentence that made me wonder: "Did you ever take a class in school just because you heard the person you liked was taking it?". The test is supposed to help me create a portrait of my ideal match. Thus, I believe that the emphasis is on the fact that the action has happened, not on the fact that it happened in the past. I believe that it would be corrected by an English teacher if I wrote something like this in a class. The person must certainly be alive because dead people tend to make for very bad matches.

Why did the author use Past Simple instead of Present Perfect?

  • Because people say it and not everything online is written by people who follow grammar rules.
    – Lambie
    Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 13:51
  • 4
    I would say Have you ever taken..., but I think Did you ever take would be American usage. Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 14:03

1 Answer 1


In your example sentence the entirety of the action takes place in the past. You took the class in the past and the person you like took it. You were both alive back then and may have made a good match. Whether you or they are still alive has nothing to do with your example sentence. The question is asking you about your past experience. It is not asking anything about your ideal match.

Present Continuous, Are you taking a class..., excludes any past experiences that have concluded. Those concluded experiences are what the test (or at least this question) is concerned with.

Additionally, if I were taking the test and encountered your example question using simple past, I would consider my present situation of taking the class as counting toward a YES answer to the question. The part of the example question saying, Did you ever..., allows me to consider now/the present as falling into the timeframe of ever.

Interestingly, if the present continuous was used, I would not consider having taken a class to count toward a YES answer. I would consider present continuous to have been used deliberately for the very purpose of excluding concluded experiences.

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