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I am confused. Could anyone explain the difference between the two. If you want to find out whether or not your coworker has met the boss. Are you going to respond,

"Have you met the boss?" or "Did you meet the boss?"(boss is still in his cabin, I have heard "have is used for the events which you can still do then why most people use did here" ).

And If one of your buddies is going to meet his cousins, what will you say when you ask him if he has met or seen them?

"Have you met/seen them?"or "Did you meet/see them?"

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  • I have heard "have is used for the events which you can still do... - that is not a good rule. Whether you can still do something has nothing to do with whether you use the present perfect. For example, "I have broken this tool so badly that it can never be used again" can only be done once, but the present perfect is still perfectly valid.
    – stangdon
    Apr 3, 2023 at 11:45

2 Answers 2

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Colloquially, they're almost equivalent. The difference being that the continual tense would be more likely to be used while in the act of actually introducing someone.

  • "Joe, have you met the boss? Dr. Moreau, this is Joe, our new veterinarian; Joe, Dr. Moreau."
  • "Jane, yesterday, did you meet the boss?"
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  • I kow very well that past tense is used with past actions. Could we explain the situations that I have mentioned? Apr 3, 2023 at 4:23
  • As Moishe says,. "Have you met X?" is normally used when introducing someone to a new acquaintance, not to ask if they have seen someone they already know. Apr 3, 2023 at 8:11
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English has several verb forms that can be used to talk about the past. The two that you mention is the perfect aspect "Have you met" and the past tense (or preterite tense) "Did you meet".

Without further context, both would be acceptable ways to ask a question about a past event (meeting the boss).

There are a couple of differences. Firstly dialect. Everything else being equal, Americans tend to prefer the past tense. British speakers are more likely to use the perfect. This is why you perceive many people using "did"; you are talking to Americans.

There are nuanced differences in meaning. The past tense form has an implied time in the past. If you add an explicit time phrase, you must use the past tense "Did you meet the boss yesterday?"

In the cousins example, there is an implied time of "while you were on the trip" Hence "Did you meet them" is more likely.

The perfect form has an implied connection to the present. There is a lot implied about meeting a boss. Why is the co-worker meeting with the boss? Is there something that the co-worker wants from the boss, or vice-versa? If does the co-worker have the thing that they want. That is a connection with the present, and would make "Have you met" a more likely question.

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