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I have waited a long time for this book but it came at last today .

Is this sentence correct OR Is it better to write

I had waited a long time for this book but it came at last today

I think both could fit because in the first sentence the wait has just finished

2 Answers 2

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I think either would do in normal speech. And I think there are plenty of other contexts in which you might be likely to encounter such usages of the present perfect for the very recent past.

Conversational English is quite forgiving of people using present perfect forms for things that were the case until the very recent past. Especially when two parts of a sentence are separated by a conjunction ('and' or 'but' in particular).

  • "I've been getting bored here in the café alone, but then you came along."

  • "James has eaten the whole piglet, and threw out the bones a few minutes ago."

If we really wanted to be Mr Logic about it (and when talking about grammar, we often do!) we might point out that a switch of perspective happens mid-sentence, but in my opinion, that switch is fine and dandy.

After all, the conjunctions 'and' and 'but' are generally used to join two otherwise complete and independent sentences.

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  • P.S.: I'd probably use the present or past perfect continuous for your original sample sentence. "I have/had been waiting a long time for this book but it came at last today." In a more dramatic example (involving an even longer time), I'd be might use the present perfect simple (though the continuous would be fine too): "I have waited for you all my life, and then you arrived!"
    – Jaime
    Feb 16, 2023 at 7:29
  • "If we really wanted to be Mr Logic about it (and when talking about grammar, we often do!)" Only if you're talking about prescriptive grammar. Grammar as most academic grammarians use the word is about how people actually use the language, and this has little to do with logic.
    – Colin Fine
    Mar 18, 2023 at 15:18
  • That's precisely why I phrased my sentence as I did ... though how people actually use language has an enormous amount to do with logic. Grammaticians both of prescriptive and descriptive bent talk very often, and with very good reason, of the grammatical logic of what people say.
    – Jaime
    Mar 19, 2023 at 7:09
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I have waited a long time for this book but it came at last today .

The sentence above is wrong. Because of using present prefect tense, the action or event have an effect on the present. Thereby, the tense of sentence after conjunction has to be present tense.

I had waited a long time for this book but it came at last today.

It is a right sentence.

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    There is nothing wrong with "It came today" The time phrase "today" includes past time. I also don't see much wrong with the present perfect. . . perhaps the book came earlier today, but you're still waiting to read it.
    – James K
    Aug 24, 2021 at 9:05
  • @James K I made a mistake, I always think Today is present.
    – bak1936
    Aug 24, 2021 at 9:09

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