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Today I came across a sentence in which present perfect was used and I couldn't convince myself why this tense had been used. Could anyone possibly clear up this confusion for me?

You have never written to me when you have stayed.

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When we talk about a period of time that continues from the past until now, we use the present perfect (have been/ have travelled etc.).

English Grammar In Use - Raymond Murphy - See section 8.

Although this underlined action has happened in the past, the person is referring to the past until now.

You have never written (past until now) to me when you have stayed (past until now).

If we look at two different examples, we change the tense.

You always wrote to me when you stayed, except last time in June when you did not.

You never wrote to me when you stayed, except last time in June when you did.

In this instance, everything is in the past.

I hope that helps.

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Where did you find that sentence?

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 MountainHiker's reply was promoted to an answer.

American English File book 3 page 40

Thank you very much indeed.

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Zohreh Hashemiwhen you have stayed

Unless it means something else in AmE, I take that part to mean "when you have stayed with me". If so, then the sentence is unnatural. Why would a person who is staying (living) with the speaker write (letters) to them?!

MountainHikerYou have never written (past until now) to me when you have stayed (past until now).

I understand the usage of the present perfect in the main clause. Where I'm, as a non-native, lost is the usage of the same present perfect in the subordinate when-clause in such a context.

tkacka15I understand the usage of the present perfect in the main clause. Where I'm, as a non-native, lost is the usage of the same present perfect in the subordinate when-clause in such a context.

1: You have never written to me when you have stayed.

2: You have never written to me when you stayed.


The way I think about it is as follows: You have never written to me whenever you have stayed. This is an on-going issue. Perhaps you stayed there two years, last year, and three months ago, and you might stay there again next month. But whenever you have stayed, you have never written. I hope this situation changes after your next visit in the next month.

What about the second example? I noticed that you stayed two years, last year, and three months ago, but you never wrote. I was expecting your letters. But nothing ever came. You never wrote. I don't like the second because I would use "wrote" instead of "have written".

I hope this helps.

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teechrUnless it means something else in AmE, I take that part to mean "when you have stayed with me". If so, then the sentence is unnatural. Why would a person who is staying (living) with the speaker write (letters) to them?!

It doesn't have any special meaning to me. Like you, I would appreciate more context to provide a better answer. Perhaps they were pen pals and were discussing about writing to each other when they were in close proximity to each other. I don't know.

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