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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 30th, 2010, 08:25 am
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Default Past Simple with Just

I often read that just should be used with Present Perfect and that using it with Past Simple is incorrect.
Nevertheless, I usually find on the internet many people who use Past Simple with just.
So, to make an example:

A: Did you do what I asked you yesterday?
B: Yes, I just did it.

I imagine that this sentence is incorrect, isn't it?
So, all these expressions which are easily found here and there are American English or can also be used in British English?

Then, another and probably stupid doubt.
If in the question there is a tense I had better use it also in the reply, had I not? Or I can change if I prefer?

Example:

A: Have you seen the doctor recently?
B: Yep, I met him yesterday.

To sum up, my last question for today ():

A: I have just done what had been asked me yesterday.
B: I have just done what was asked me yesterday.
C: I just did what had been asked me yesterday.

Which of these three sentences is correct?
Can I use the past simple (case b) to express an action which happened before another or I have to choose the Past Perfect?

Thanks!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 30th, 2010, 01:38 pm
Sue
 
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Default Re: Past Simple with Just

"just" is fine with the past simple.

People often say that it's American English - but you'll also find it used very frequently in British English - click here for some British English examples of just+saw, for example.

Remember that the past simple expresses an event that you want to see as past and finished :

A : Where's John? I need to speak to him.
B : Too late - he just left for New York.


Here, the speaker sees the event (John leaving) as being over - finished.

The present perfect, on the other hand, expresses an event which in some way continues into or impacts on the present. So :

A : Where's John? I need to speak to him.
B : I've just seen him in Anne's office.


In British English at least (American anyone??) B might choose the present perfect in this case to imply that if A moves fast, John will still be there and she'll find him - in other words the past event (seeing John in Paul's office two minutes ago) has a result in the present (there's a good chance that he's in there now).

But this isn't a "rule" - it's a matter of speaker choice. If you want to see the event as past (and this, I believe, is the tendency in American English) you use the past simple. If you want to see it as impacting on the present (common but not essential in British English) you use the present perfect. grammar is a means of expressing meaning. What meaning you want to express is your choice - so you choose the structure to express the meaning that you want to.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 30th, 2010, 01:49 pm
Sue
 
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Default Re: Past Simple with Just

You said : another ...doubt.
If in the question there is a tense I had better use it also in the reply, had I not? Or I can change if I prefer?

Example:

A: Have you seen the doctor recently?
B: Yep, I met him yesterday.


No, you don't have to use the same verb form at all. It's the same as I said in the message above. Grammar expresses meaning, and the verb form you choose depends on what meaning you want to express.

Here, A chooses the present perfect because she is talking abour indefinite past time - that is, any time up to the present moment: Have you seen the Doctor?

However, B's reply specifies an action in past time : "yesterday". So the past simple must be used : I met him yesterday.

Here's another example. This time A asks about the past, but B replies about the future - so obviously the verb form changes - because the "meaning" of the two speakers is quite different :

A : Did you see the doctor yesterday?
B : No - I'm seeing her tomorrow.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 30th, 2010, 02:11 pm
Sue
 
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Default Re: Past Simple with Just

You said : A: I have just done what had been asked me yesterday.
B: I have just done what was asked me yesterday.
C: I just did what had been asked me yesterday.

Which of these three sentences is correct?
Can I use the past simple (case b) to express an action which happened before another or I have to choose the Past Perfect?


All three questions are incorrect, but the verb forms in (B) are correct. It should be :

B: I have just done what was asked of me yesterday.

Even that's a bit strange - but I think your question is about the verb forms, so let's concentrate on those.

You'll find the explanations for the two verb form "have just done" and "was asked" above. One is seen as impacting upon the present (I've done it, so it's not a problem any more) while the second is firmly established in past time (yesterday) and therefore needs a past simple verb ( in this case past simple passive, but that makes no difference).

The past perfect is only used to sequence two past events - so A is impossible because it includes a present (perfect) event and a past event, not two past events.

It is optional (and often not used) if there is another indicator of the sequencing in the sentence - eg :
After the meeting finished, we went for a pizza.
After the meeting had finished , we went for a pizza.
Here, "after" indicates the sequence. The past perfect verb form is therefore unnecessary (though optional).

Similarly in sentence C, "just" indicates that this is the most recent event. So the past perfect is unnecessary as a sequencer.


The past perfect is only obligatory if, otherwise, the sequence would be unclear. Compare :
David left when we arrived. (= D. left as/just after we arrived)
David had left when we arrived. (= D. left before we arrived)
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread May 1st, 2010, 01:55 pm
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Default Re: Past Simple with Just

it's so good that we have you and that you are so willing to explain to us, susan
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread May 2nd, 2010, 04:13 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: Past Simple with Just

Quote:
Quote Beatrix View Post
it's so good that we have you and that you are so willing to explain to us, susan

Don't worry Beatrix - it's good for me. Helps me clarify me own ideas. You have no idea how often I get to the end of a long answer, realise I've written a load of rubbish, delete the lot, go do some real research and then answer again. Then when my trainees ask the same question I can give a smooth apparently off the cuff answer and everyone goes Gosh - how impressive. But I couldn't do it without you lot pointing out how much I don't understand and making me look it up
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