Present perfect can describe something that happened in the past, but which still has a impact on the present:

I've lost my key.

Can I use the past simple to describe this effect? For example:

I lost my key just now.

Or can I add another sentence to tell listeners that I haven't found it? The effect is still there.

I lost my key, but I haven't found it.

  • 1
    By "impact on the present" do you mean that it is still continuing into the present? In any case, it may be that all you need to say is "I lost my" key and it is clear from context that you haven't found it yet. You don't necessarily need to add something to make that clear, unless the person that you're talking to has a reason to believe that you've both lost it AND found it before making this statement.
    – cruthers
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 0:25
  • By "impact on the present", I mean "I havn't found it yet".
    – Stephen
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 1:39
  • 1
    Native speakers, especially British English speakers, suggest me to use "I've lost my key" when I haven't found the key. The present perfect tense is recommended, instead of the past simple.
    – Stephen
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 1:44
  • 1
    Ok, yes, that sounds correct for British English. In the U.S., we don't use the present perfect nearly as much. We'd just say "I lost my keys" and add clarifying information only if necessary.
    – cruthers
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 2:01

2 Answers 2


"I have lost my key" would generally mean that your key is currently lost. There would be no reason to add that you hadn't found it yet.

If we wanted to say that the event is something in the past, that is to say it is not an ongoing situation, we would just say "I lost my key". This doesn't state whether it was found or not.

"I have lost my key just now" sounds unusual, not for a grammar reason, but because if you knew exactly when you lost it, you surely have a good idea how and where you lost it.


I (just) lost my car key

Is OK if you had an idea when and where you lost it. Maybe it's not technically "lost" but the fact is you don't have it with you at the time of speaking. Maybe the car key is somewhere in the car park, in the office, at a petrol station, in a café…

British English speakers will probably use the Present Perfect without even thinking why, just because it is very common to use this tense in these types of situations.

I've just lost my car key

Now, the speaker is unable to use their car.

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