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If I say: I've seen him at the supermarket" does this imply I've seen him several times at the supermarket or can I say it if I've seen him only once (without including the word "once")?

In other words does the present perfect always imply several times? Some natives seem to think so.

To me "I've seen him at the supermarket" means I've had the experience of seeing him at the supermarket and it says nothing about how many times I've seen him. So even if it was only once I can use present perfect. Correct?

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  • 'I've seen him…' implies seeing him several times when, and only when it's said in contrast to 'I saw him…' You can I say that if you've seen him only once, though the context might change that. Either way, the present perfect implies several times only in specific contexts; never in or of itself. Feb 6, 2023 at 20:49
  • I don't understand "in contrast to I saw him". You can say "I've seen him once/several times, but you can also say "I saw him once/several times.
    – anouk
    Feb 7, 2023 at 19:20
  • What is the trouble with 'in contrast to "I saw him" '? By itself, 'I've seen him…' might imply that anything was seen 'several times' - or it might not. In contrast/ by comparison/ as against/ on the other hand/ in the context of 'I saw him…' the meaning of 'I've seen him…' is no longer self-defined. 'I saw him…' by itself means one thing. 'I've seen him…' by itself means one thing. 'I saw him' in contrast to/ by comparison to/ as against/ on the other hand from/ in the context of 'I've seen him…' necessarily changes the value of either statement. Feb 13, 2023 at 18:49

2 Answers 2

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'I've seen him at the supermarket' says nothing about how many times you've seen him; merely that you saw him at the supermarket at least once.

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The sentence

I've seen him at the supermarket.

is most often used when the speaker has seen the person referred to on multiple occasions. In the absence of context, that is how most fluent speakers would interpret it, i think. I won't say it is wrong to use when the speaker has seen the other person only once, but it is likely to confuse or mislead a listener

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  • If I say: "I've seen him at the supermarket today" does this imply several times as well?
    – anouk
    Apr 21, 2022 at 16:17
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    No, it doesn't. Also, I don't see anything wrong with "I know he's a great supporter of independent stores, but I have seen him at the supermarket"(which could mean only once). Apr 21, 2022 at 16:21
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    @anouk I agree with the comment by Kate Bunting. A qualifier such as "today" or "last week", or her suggested context removes any implication of multiple occasions. Apr 21, 2022 at 16:32
  • @Kate Bunting Does "I've seen him at the supermarket today" sound odd as a sentence?
    – anouk
    Apr 21, 2022 at 16:51
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    No - I would have said so in my earlier comment if that had been the case! Apr 21, 2022 at 17:59

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