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There are some phrases English native speakers have sent me in the past and I'm not sure how they can be grammatically correct.

I got your order and have processed it.

She has agreed to my terms, so I only did my part yesterday.

[she] quietly slipped away today from the hospital where she has been staying since being freed [...]

If you have just registered, you received your current bill via USPS.

Are these sentences alright? I thought the simple past couldn't be used with the present perfect.

This part on the invoice signifies the quantity shipped but that part signifies the quantity he had wanted.

Why doesn't the sentence use "he wanted"?

There had been an error on the exam, so here are the correct answers.

Can you really use the past perfect here when you are referring to a single event, or does this depend from the context?

ADDITIONAL QUESTION: I saw this sentence on Amazon today: "We noticed that you have created a return label for this order". Does this make sense? Isn't it similar to "She has agreed to my terms, so I only did my part yesterday"?

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I got your order and have processed it

This is okay; there's an action in the past, and a just-completed action, presented in the correct order.

She has agreed to my terms, so I only did my part yesterday.

I don't like this one; it's kind of a "garden-path" sentence, where when you start reading it you automatically assume one thing and when you're done you have to go back and think "oh yeah, I suppose they could have meant it that way." The default reading is that "she has agreed" is a just-completed action; then as a consequence of that, you cannot have an action entirely in the past. You then have to think "oh, they must have meant 'has agreed' as an ongoing thing that started at some point in the past (prior to yesterday)." So while it is perhaps technically justifiable, it's still misleading.

[She] quietly slipped away today from the hospital where she has been staying

This one is okay; you can "slip away" from someplace that you're staying as long as you return there. She might have slipped away to go visit a friend, or to go to a birthday party, or something.

If you have just registered, you received your current bill via USPS.

This is a conditional statement with a lot of implied bits to it, but I believe it is okay. The things going into this are:

  • we normally bill via USPS
  • when you register, you can change how you receive your bill
  • you weren't registered before
  • in order to get to this point, you must have been billed at least once already
  • therefore, since you are at this point, it must be the case that your most recent bill (that is, the "current" one) was sent by USPS.

This part on the invoice signifies the quantity shipped but that part signifies the quantity he had wanted.

I think this would be better with the simple past, but someone could make a case for the past perfect, since the sequence of events is that at time A in the past, someone wanted X units; later (but still in the past), the company shipped Y units; and now, we are talking about it.

There had been an error on the exam, so here are the correct answers.

This one is clearly wrong, since there is no "later, but still in the past" event to make the past perfect useful. (It should be "There was an error.")

  • Then how would you rewrite "She has agreed to my terms, so I only did my part yesterday"? I mean, I kind of get that this person is simply stating some information that is still relevant, but I'm not sure how I would write it some other way. – jess May 15 '13 at 0:03
  • Depending on the timing, you'd have to either put the agreement into the past perfect with "She had agreed to my terms, so I only did my part yesterday" or use the simple past with "She agreed to my terms, so I only did my part yesterday." – Hellion May 15 '13 at 4:28
  • @Hellion: Even though the agreement is still relevant and in effect? Wow, the logic behind English is pretty difficult! In the "slipping away from hospital" example, I actually read this on an online newspaper. I think it clearly implied that she was leaving the hospital. If this is the case, is the sentence still correct? And oh, the USPS statement is so confusing. I think I registered online even before getting my first bill. In this case, is the sentence still okay? – Pato May 15 '13 at 4:34
  • I'm so sorry, I have one more question on the last sentence. I think I know that it is wrong, but can you make it correct by arguing that there was a lot of implied bits to this sentence? Thank you! – Pato May 15 '13 at 4:38
  • If she agreed to your terms at some point prior to your actions yesterday, then yes, the past perfect is used to make it clear that the agreement took place prior to your other past actions. For the "slipping away" bit, if it was written in the sense of "escape with no intent to return" then I would say that the past perfect would have been a better choice: "...where she had been staying." – Hellion May 15 '13 at 4:38
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Some of these sentences are compound sentences, and are grammatical because they would be grammatical if they were separate. For example:

I have written the report and am on my way.

is grammatical because it would be grammatical if it were two separate sentences:

I have written the report. I am on my way.

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