I am practising and doing exercise on the differences between simple past and present perfect. One of the rules I've learnt states that present perfect should be used when an action happened in the past but at a nonspecific moment of time. So when we do not know exactly when it happened.

My question regards the application of this rule in this text I posted, sentence number 6. I would have completed it with "have bought", but in the book I find that the right answer should be "bought". Why is that?

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Thanks for your help!

  • It depends on the choice of 'do' for (5). If "did", then "bought", if "have done", then "have bought". Both are perfectly fine. Sep 25, 2015 at 16:17
  • I read that when there is the signal word "already" I should use present perfect; therefore, it should be (sentence 5) "I've already done".
    – E.V.
    Sep 25, 2015 at 16:20
  • Your at a nonspecific moment of time principle would apply to, say, I have been to a funeral (normally, with stress on been), if you're pointing out (unlike some people, or contrary to expectations, etc.) you have actually had such an experience. As with other contexts where present perfect might be preferred, the implication is your statement has some relevance to the presenmt (now, time of speaking). The fact that you have done this at some (unspecified, irrelevant) time in the past differentiates you from other people (now) who have never been to a funeral. Sep 25, 2015 at 16:22
  • ... in example #6 you'd normally use simple past. You might use present perfect if the fact that you bought the scarf and china previously is particularly relevant at current time of speaking (because you're just about to take them out of your shopping bags and show them to whoever you're talking to, for example). Sep 25, 2015 at 16:24


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