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Grammar books usually tell us that in questions we can use already when expressing surprise:
Have you already finished? That was quick.
Are you already here?

Otherwise yet is mandatory.

Have you called the garage yet?
Did you buy the bread yet?
That's it for grammar.
In real life I often hear people making questions using already instead of yet and not only in spoken english but also in newspapers,web sites,weblogs...

Being influenced by this misusage I've found myself using interchangeabley already and yet in questions .Is it a severe mistake?
In my difence below are some leading-astray examples from very distinguished sources.

Do you want to hear another, or have you already had un oeuf?"(NYT JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER)
Have you already gained the knowledge to make the call?(NYT JOHN McCAIN)
Have you already begun your journey to becoming carbon neutral?(Guardian)
Have you already put up a birdbox in your garden?(BBC)
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TarkowskyBeing influenced by this misusage I've found myself using interchangeabley already and yet in questions .Is it a severe mistake?

Hi Tarkowsky

Each case must be judged individually. I see nothing wrong with your examples - and I never heard already should only be used to express surprise in questions!

CB
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Your first source says that already usually expresses surprise; it doesn't say it always expresses surprise. In my opinion, even saying it usually expresses surprise seems to be going too far. I'd say that already sometimes expresses surprise.

Your second source says that already may express surprise; it doesn't say that already must express surprise.
_________

already points backward in time.
It has to do with something finished -- fulfilled expectations.
yet points forward in time.
It has to do with something still to be finished -- unfulfilled expectations.

Therefore, with statements in the perfect tenses, it's almost always already for affirmatives and yet for negatives.

I've already seen her. (Finished. Expectations fulfilled.)
I haven't seen her yet. (Not finished. Expectations not fulfilled. Expectations still 'in effect'.)
_______

With questions, there is a choice, though yet is more neutral, perhaps.

Have you seen her yet?
Have you already seen her?
Haven't you seen her yet?
Haven't you already seen her?

CJ
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From BBC learning English site

already - meaning and use

Whereas still and yet normally refer to present and future circumstances, already normally refers to something that is in the present or recent past. It is mainly used in questions and affirmative sentences and usually expresses surprise that something has happened sooner than expected.

  • When do you expect Polly to arrive?
    ~ She's already here! Haven't you seen her?

    Have you finished that typing already?
    Yes, I finished it about five minutes ago.


Another reliable source is Michael Swan (Practical English Usage, Oxford University Press, 1997):

"Already is used to say that something is in the present or past, not the future. It may express some surprise - for example, because something has happened sooner than expected.

"When's Sally going to come?" "She's already here."
" Have you already finished? That was quick!


In questions, we use yet to ask whether something expected has happened.

Is supper ready yet?
Has the postman come yet?"


pp. 562-63

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Note this example:

Do you want to hear another, or have you already had un oeuf (enough)?

In light of my previous post, note that this is asking something like
Shall we continue forward? Or have we fulfilled expectations?

That is:
Do we still need to fulfill expectations? Or have we fulfilled expectations?
_______

Had yet been used in place of already, we would have had:

Do you want to hear another, or have you had un oeuf (enough) yet?

That is:
Shall we continue forward? Or do we still need to fulfill expecations?

That is:
Do we still need to fulfill expectations? Or do we still need to fulfill expectations?

-- which is asking the same thing twice.

So yet does not make sense in this context.
____

To my ear, yet might make more sense this way:

Have you had enough yet or can we stop?


CJ
thanks

What about "How much have you done yet?" Can we say it in general? Some minutes ago I was answered "That sounds odd" (but the other situation was meant (though with some similarities)...? and "ODD" doesn't mean incorrect...

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Hello!

I have some doubts in relation to this sentença: Have you bought the tickets already? You promised to buy them today. Is it possible to use already in the end of the sentence?