I'm working on an animation and I need some help. There isn't much dialog but I'm confused about a phrase in particular: one of the characters is waiting for her friend to come from another country. She expects him to come by plane but instead he chooses a way longer journey by boat. She's surprised and when he finally arrives she asks him why he didn't take the plane instead. So which one would sound more natural? "why didn't you take the plane" or "why haven't you taken the plane?". What do you think? Thank you :)

  • Unless you actually need the Perfect, it's nearly always more idiomatic to stick with Simple Past. Almost all non-native Anglophones overuse Perfect verb forms in English. Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 19:10
  • I would find "Why didn't you come by air?" or "Why didn't you fly?" more idiuomatic. Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 8:10

1 Answer 1


Past simple is your best choice! The fact that the person hasn't taken the plane does not matter anymore, which means that the question is asked out of curiosity. Past simple is usually better for questions related to non-relevant context, meaning "I just want to know" vs "I really need to know"

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