I will deal with the report as soon as I have got back from my holiday.

There is "will" which means the action will be done in the future. Why do we use the present perfect in this phrase, "I have got back", instead of the present simple, "get"? The following sentence

I will deal with the report as soon as I get back from my holiday.

makes sense to me. Can we use both? If so, what's the difference?

2 Answers 2


OP asks Why do we use the present perfect? But in fact, we usually don't. From Google Books...

1: as soon as I return (33,400 hits)
2: as soon as I have returned (5 hits)

That extreme preference applies when the relevant verb relates to a single "time-specific" action such as getting back, returning - particularly if that action isn't currently "in progress".

There's still a preference for the simpler form if the verb relates to a more extended process which is already underway, but it's nowhere near as strong...

3: as soon as I finish (27,700 hits)
4: as soon as I have finished (16,400 hits)

I doubt you'll find a specific rule for this in any grammar books, but in my opinion #3 above is far more likely if the speaker is currently doing whatever needs to be finished. Thus...

5: I'll do the washing up as soon as I finish my tea (which I'm still eating)
6: Tomorrow, I'll do the washing up as soon as I have finished my tea (which I'm not eating yet)

As ever, my advice to learners is use simpler tenses unless there's a compelling reason to make things more complicated. That's what native speakers normally do.

I can't actually figure out how to embed the chart in my answer, but it's worth looking at this NGram to see how as soon as I have completed, has been supplanted by as soon as I complete over the past century. It's not likely that this reflects a change in meaning (for different temporal relationships).


In your example "I will deal with the report as soon as I have got(gotten) back from my holiday (vacation)" (sorry, had to Americanize it to make sense of it), makes plenty of sense.

A previous poster said as advice to learners "use simpler tenses" but I don't think you are a "learner" any more than I or he is.

It's an interesting observation you make. Both are acceptable. There's a sense that the, albeit more cumbersome, present perfect is somehow more accurate, more complete.

I will deal with this once I have completed the task of having gotten back home (forgive the Americanizing).

Whereas the other choice could easily presume that I will deal with this as soon as I get back home... at the airport.

I would definitely recommend the first example you gave as being the most accurate.

  • So choosing between present perfect and past simple is a matter of accuracy?
    – Schwale
    Dec 13, 2015 at 17:02
  • Uhhhhm, this isn't about past simple so I'd have to think about that. Yes, unrelated to this post, I would say "absolutely" to that separate question. The simple past is much more specific. "I went to Thailand last week." The present perfect is usually very vague. "I have been to Thailand." Matter of accuracy indeed.
    – Jack Roy
    Dec 13, 2015 at 17:14
  • I thought it was interesting that the very first result in my Google Books search for the more complex tense was as soon as I have completed the tour of the nation, which I shall commence to-morrow, which doesn't fit the tendency I identified in my answer... Dec 13, 2015 at 17:30
  • ...but that's obviously a very old text, and as this NGram shows, usage has changed considerably over the past couple of centuries. I maintain that the simpler form should be preferred by everyone, whether they're "learners" or not. Dec 13, 2015 at 17:32
  • @JackRoy I'm sorry, I meant to say present simple.
    – Schwale
    Dec 13, 2015 at 17:41

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