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The present perfect tense (I have lost my key) is used when I lost my key, and I don't still have it. Is it right?

Then, if I lost my key, but I found the key, and I have it now, can I say "I haven't lost my key because I found it"? Because the present perfect tense is used when there's still effect now, but there's no effect now.

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    I lost my keys, but i've found them again.
    – anouk
    Dec 23, 2023 at 16:12
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    But you did lose your key, it's just that you've found it again.
    – anouk
    Dec 23, 2023 at 16:46
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    The present perfect tense speaks of actions in the past up until the present. I haven't lost my key means that your key was NEVER lost at any time in the past, and is not lost now. But this would not be true if you did lose your key, so it wouldn't make logical sense to say that you found it if you never lost it.
    – Billy Kerr
    Dec 23, 2023 at 17:20
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    @Billy ‘I haven’t lost my key’ doesn’t mean that you’ve never lost your key in your life, just that you haven’t lost it in the scenario/timeframe being talked about. Perfectly natural: “Have you gone and lost your key again?” — “No, I haven’t lost my key, it’s right there on the counter!” (despite the fact that I have definitely lost my key previously in my life). No one would be able to say for certain that they’d never lost their key in their life – even if they don’t remember it, it’s such an insignificant thing that they could never be sure. Dec 24, 2023 at 10:42
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    @BillyKerr Perhaps I took “at any point in the past” more literally than you meant it, but that to me implies in your life… Dec 24, 2023 at 11:21

3 Answers 3

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Simple Past...

1: I lost it, but then I found it

...is a valid, natural utterance. But...

2: I have lost it, but then I found it

...isn't idiomatic, because Present Perfect implies an action that continues (or at least, continues to be relevant) up until time of speaking.

But since the thing has been found1 after being lost, obviously the (act or effect of) loss doesn't continue up to time of speaking. So we'd expect Past Perfect I had lost it - referring back to the earlier action before I found it.

We don't say...

3: I haven't lost my key because I found it
...but we do say...
4: My key isn't lost because I found it
...or more often, just...
5: My key was lost but I found it


1 Note that Present Perfect is fine here, because the (act or effect of) finding the thing continues up until time of speaking.

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You could say

I haven't lost my key after all.

Including after all gives the meaning: "I believed that I had lost my key and would never find it, but actually I had merely misplaced it." Or "...but actually I had merely forgotten where I put it." Or "... but it had slipped through a hole in my pocket down into the lining of my jacket." Whatever. The core idea is that you were mistaken in thinking that it was lost.

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Another way you can express this is

My keys are no longer lost.

"no longer" implies that the keys had been lost in the past, but this condition has been remedied.

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