You wife (partner/friend) went to the shop to buy some food. She knew that among other things she had to buy some bread.

She has already returned home. You aren't talking to her about the shop or about any events of the past.

You only want to know if the bread is purchased, since right now you are hungry and want a sandwich.

What would be your most typical question: "Have you bought it?" or "Did you buy it?"

Thanks! (Please, name the country you are from, as it is really interesting if there are any differences between UK / US / Canadian / Indian habits of speaking). Thanks again!

  • This issue has been covered many, many times here.
    – Lambie
    May 14, 2022 at 18:56
  • @Lambie It does answer the question, but I think the main point is the question the OP didn't ask outright, the difference in usage between various English speaking countries. As such I believe this should be left open as it is an interesting idea. May 23, 2022 at 9:11
  • This question is a more fitting duplicate of "Have you seen her?" or "Did you see her?"
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 23, 2022 at 9:43
  • @PeterJennings The thing about different countries is not relevant here. There is no difference in terms of teaching someone how to use it.
    – Lambie
    May 23, 2022 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


Either is possible, but British English prefers the present perfect and American English prefers the simple past.

Also, the present perfect focuses on the present result = do you have the bread now, whereas the simple past focuses on the past action = did you buy the bread when you were in the shop?

Apparently AE is influencing BE as well, so past simple is used a lot. (I'm Dutch by the way, but I've asked this question myself.)

  • This is not true at all. I really have no idea where this myth originated. BrE speakers use the simple past just like AmE speakers. No one would say "Have you bought bread?" for "Did you buy bread?" In cases like that, it depends on what the speaker means and wants to say regardless of geography.
    – Lambie
    May 23, 2022 at 13:57
  • @Lambie What do you mean by this: " No one would say "Have you bought bread?" for "Did you buy bread?"
    – anouk
    May 23, 2022 at 14:51
  • I mean that if a person means either of those, they will use one or the other, And there is no influencing of British English re the simple past. That is simply not true.
    – Lambie
    May 23, 2022 at 15:46

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