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'has already begun' vs 'already began'

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hirashin

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Hello, native English speakers,

I have a question.

Do you ever use all the following sentences?
If you use both (a) and (b) in each set, tell me
what the difference in meaning is between them.

1a) Have you tried this yet?
1b) Did you try this yet?

2a) Have you ever read this?
2b) Did you ever read this?

3a) Have you eaten this so far?
3b) Did you eat this so far?

4a) The play has already begun/started.
4b) The play already began/started.

5a) Tom has been to France before.
5b) Tom went to France before.

Thanks in advance.

Hirashin
 

Cat Egg

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Hi, Hirashin :)
In spoken English they are generally interchangeable because you can tell what is meant from context. There is a subtle difference, though.

'Have you' seems to be asking more broadly. "Have you tasted this?" (Have you ever tasted this before?)
'Did you' seems more immediate or specific. "Did you taste this?" (Did you taste this [at this specific dinner/event]?)

I think another way to see the difference is like this:
Billy: Did you taste this?
Tanaka: Yes, I have. (I have tasted it before, but not recently)

Billy: Did you taste this?
Tanaka: Yes, I did. (I tasted it very recently/moments ago/earlier today/etc)

The difference is subtle and not that important in most conversations.
If the person really wants to know, they'll just ask. "But did you try it today? The chef did a good job today."

--

For begun/began, it's a bit different.
"The play has already begun" is more immediate.
Like, "Where are you? The play has already begun!"

"The play already began" sounds more like you are talking about a past event.
"The play already began, but I decided to go anyway."

Again, they are both interchangeable with no major difference.

--

For has been/went:
'Has been' is more passive.
'Tom has been to France." is talking about a non-specific experience. I think it's a bit like ことがある.

'Tom went to France." is more specific.
"is Tom here?" "No, Tom went to France."
or
"Tom went to France last week."

--

I hope this helps some :)
I'm sure others can offer other nuances to these phrases.
 
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1a) Have you tried this yet?
1b) Did you try this yet?
1a is more gentle and general, and has less expectation that the listener -should- have tried something already.
1a': Have you tried the new restaurant yet?
1b': Did you try turning it the -other- direction yet?

2a) Have you ever read this?
2b) Did you ever read this?
I almost always use 2b, even though I think 2a again sounds like it puts less expectation on the listener. I'd say 2a is preferable if you want to sound polite.

3a) Have you eaten this so far?
3b) Did you eat this so far?
I never say either, instead I say "Have you ever had duck confit?"

4a) The play has already begun/started.
4b) The play already began/started.
4a is preferable, both forms are fine. I can't think of a context where 'began' is natural, I think it's the wrong tense. 'Began' is used to describe events that are completely in the past, like 'I was on my way to the store when it began to rain.' I would say 'The play had already begun' if it was entirely in the past.
(Actually, I'd never -say- that probably. 'had begun' feels more written, 'had started' more spoken.)
5a) Tom has been to France before.
5b) Tom went to France before.
Always 5a.
'went' is natural in habitual past actions, not so much in 'has had the experience of' expressions.
5b': Tom went to France every summer to visit his cousins.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, Cat Egg and Chris.

I have a further question.

Would both (6a) and (6b) have the same meaning?
6a) Have you ever tried sushi ?
6b) Have you tried sushi before ?

I hear that many Americans say "Did you eat" instead of
"Have you eaten?" Is that true?

Hirashin
 

Cat Egg

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Yes, they do have the same meaning.

It's also true that Americans will say "Did you eat?" or "Did you eat yet?"
They will also say "Have you eaten?" or "Have you eaten yet?" But it sounds a bit formal, so it's more likely something you would say to your boss or your grandmother.
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, Cat Egg. The difference between the present perfect tense and the
past tense seems rather complicated to me probably because we don't have the present
perfect tense in Japanese.

Hirashin.
 
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