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Could a native English speaker use the phrase "I figured it out!" in an internet forum if he/she has suddenly understood something? Or would he/she say something like "I've got it!"

The matter is, one fellow (Russian native) translator said that an English speaker wouldn't use a phrase in the past tense to say that he/she has understood something just now, but will employ the present tense.

That made me curious.

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    Some present tense phrases: "Oh, I see!" or "Oh, I get it!" Saying "I figure it out" just sounds wrong to my native American English ears.
    – mkennedy
    Oct 16, 2014 at 23:14

6 Answers 6

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Could a native English speaker use the phrase "I figured it out!" in an internet forum if he/she has suddenly understood something?

Yes, absolutely. Whether it's correct is a more difficult question, and of course, language "correctness" itself is a difficult concept.

As a native speaker, I wouldn't blink at that at all and might well say it. Other ways I might say it:

  • I've figured it out.

  • I've figured it out now.

  • I've got it.

  • I've got it now.

Curiously, though, I would never say "I've figured it out now" in the context you gave, but I would in a different context, for instance if someone asked me if I still needed help: "No, thanks, I've figured it out now."

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I think this is entirely normal usage.

I figured it out!

is similar to

I solved the puzzle

or

I ran a mile

You could also say

I understand it

which places emphasis on the fact that you presently understand it, while I figured it out places more emphasis on the solving of the problem - if it was particularly hard to grasp, this might be important. They often could be used in the same place, and neither would be wrong, and often would come down to personal preference.

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    I would never use "I've figured it out" in place of "I ran a mile."
    – The111
    Oct 17, 2014 at 2:05
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    In what part of the world does "I ran a mile" mean "I understand" or "I solved the puzzle" or anything close to that?
    – Jim
    Oct 17, 2014 at 4:38
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    Joe isn't saying that those phrases mean similar things, just that they all use a past-tense verb to refer to a recently accomplished task.
    – Ajedi32
    Oct 17, 2014 at 13:31
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I think you can use:

I figured it out!

as a set phrase. Especially as an exclamation, I think you can say it this way.

I can't believe it, but I figured it out!

But for the picky, one could say:

I've figured it out!

though in my opinion the "figured out" part did happen in the past.

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    There are no rules being broken here.
    – user230
    Oct 16, 2014 at 18:22
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    @snailboat OK, I edited my answer.
    – user3169
    Oct 16, 2014 at 18:40
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    "I've figured it out!" and "I figured it out!" sound identical to my (American) ear. Even if I pronounce the "v", I do not consciously distinguish it from the "f". If I read "I figured it out!", I may subvocalize it as "I've figured it out!"
    – Jasper
    Oct 16, 2014 at 20:15
  • "I figured it out" sounds more correct to me, but perhaps it's the Dinosaur Train song with that as a refrain in my head...
    – Joe
    Oct 16, 2014 at 20:19
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    Or you could go for the classic and say 'Eureka!' (For best effect, be Greek and in the bath)
    – Damien H
    Oct 16, 2014 at 23:18
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Regarding "I've figured it out!" versus "I figured it out!": generally I'd prefer the former as an exclamation. The latter is more what you might say if somebody else was trying to take credit for figuring it out, and you wished to correct them.

There's nothing technically wrong with either of the above in terms of their meaning or grammar, but a native English speaker would be unlikely to use them as an exclamation, simply because they're each too long. Aim for two or three syllables for a typical exclamation.

It would be strange to exclaim "I formed a hypothesis, and have confirmed it as valid through experiment!" That may be what you did, but "I've done it!" would convey the same meaning, and would sound better.

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Your sentence says it all - a native who understood it just now. The word understood is the past tense word! :)

I'm not a native but I am pretty sure using past tense is not incorrect in such contexts. I have noticed this in may Hollywood movies wherein someone advices/instructs someone and the other fellow immediately nods, "Got it!"

I think it's quite similar to the context where I ask informally, 'Understand?' and you reply, "Yep! Understood."

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“I’ve figured it out” is the Present Perfect tense and the correct grammatical form if you are referring to unspecified time.

If you say “I figured it out yesterday” then that would be past simple tense and the correct form. Many native speakers make this mistake so it becomes colloquial usage. You see it used a lot.

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