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Consider these two sentences:

1. You have to do it just like I did it.

2. You have to do it just like I have done it.

I do understand the difference between simple past and present perfect, however,I'm wondering if the second sentence fits any context. In what situation would you use the second sentence instead of the first one?

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  • Does this answer your question? Canonical Post #2: What is the perfect, and how should I use it? Jun 28, 2023 at 20:28
  • Sorry but it doesn't answer my question.
    – weebmanish
    Jun 28, 2023 at 20:31
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    That post describes the perfect aspect in quite a bit of depth. If it doesn't answer your question, then you should really explain why. Asking a question here without describing any research that you've done is a great way of getting your question closed quickly. (You may want to look at this page and some of the other help pages for advice about how to ask a good question.) Jun 28, 2023 at 20:41
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    Do you understand the difference between simple past and present perfect? If so, what do you not understand about it in this context?
    – gotube
    Jun 28, 2023 at 21:18
  • @gotube I take it you've read StoneyB's 5 canonical posts on the matter? Jun 29, 2023 at 22:45

2 Answers 2

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I would use the second sentence if I had just demonstrated how to do it, especially if the demonstration were fairly complicated and/or drawn out, so that a simple "like I did it" seems too simple. Or if the demonstration were repeated several times.

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The main difference is one is a past tense, the other is a present tense describing the current situation in terms of past actions that led to it.

Imagine two situations about jumping:

First: You demonstrate: you jump up in place once, and you want the other person to jump. The current situation no different than before, the jump was of no consequence really, so you'll use "You have to do it just like I did it."

Second: You and your friend are being chased by a flood of angry ants and you two need to jump over a deep chasm to safety on the other side. You've jumped across, but your friend is hesitating. You are safe, your friend is in danger. You are across, your friend isn't. It's not your action of jumping that matters, it's the situation of being safely across the chasm and away from the ants. And by successfully jumping across the chasm, you've shown this is doable. So you encourage your friend: "You have to do it just like I have done it." The "I have done it".

I like to describe it as: "I have bought a jacket" is "I have a jacket (which I obtained by means of purchase)" whereas "I bought a jacket" is "I was busy buying at the time (the subsequent fate of the jacket is indeterminate or irrelevant)"

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