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1.Have you phoned your sister?

2.Did you phone your sister?

What is the difference between the above two sentences? (Do they sound similar?)

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In English, another way to make the past is to "have [past participle]".

E.g. "I have given my candy away." vs.

"I gave my candy away."

So in your case, the verb is "to phone" [someone].

They have the same meaning. The first has a bit of an implication that the asker was expecting you to do it. The second is more inquisitive and unsure whether you did or not. This is sort of specific to the sentences and typically they are indistinguishable in meaning and tone.

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They mean the same thing, so it’s just a matter of personal preference. I’d expect to hear the first from my mother as a reminder that I should call my sister, but she would use either one if she just wanted to know whether or not I’d spoken to my sister recently. Someone else's mother might reverse that. I really can't think of any solid differences between the phrases.

Also, I hear call as the verb here more often than phone, but I’d expect that to be a regional difference. I’m in the Northeast US.

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  • I think 'did you phone' comes over marginally more accusational - there is more of the past tense 'have you done it yet?' in there. Perhaps 'have you..' on your sisters birthday, 'did you..' the day after! – Mark Williams Dec 12 '14 at 14:38

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