Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Today, in #9 of our countdown of the Top 15 Fixes in English series, we’ll be discussing how to handle past experiences and accomplishments in English!

If somebody says, “I have done that,” how is it different from saying “I did that?”  The difference can seem tricky but the key is the context.

Here is a simple way to think about this:

  • When using have done, you are zooming out, outside of yourself and to a big picture.  You might be talking about your entire lifetime, or the distant past. What is more important is what happened rather than when it happened.
  • When using did, you are zooming in to something more recent and maybe more simple.  You may also be talking about a specific time period that is now over. The time is more important here.

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Here are some more examples:

  • “I did go to Paris last week.”
  • “I didn’t watch any TV yesterday.”
  • “I have been to Paris, but not since childhood.”
  • “I have watched a lot of TV in my lifetime.”


In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are chatting about their bucket lists.

Michelle: What is something you have done that was on your bucket list?

Lindsay: I always wanted to get certified to scuba dive, so I did that last year.

Michelle: I have done that too- it was amazing!

Lindsay: I thought it might be frightening to be in such deep water, but I didn’t feel scared at all.

Michelle: I have thought about trying base jumping. Have you done that?

Lindsay: Yes, I did go base jumping! I went a couple of years ago. It was scary though- now that I have done it, I’m good.

Michelle: I have been afraid of heights since I was a kid so that would probably scare me.

Lindsay: I did feel scared, even though I don’t usually have a fear of heights.

Michelle: I’ll have to try it!

Other Entries in the 15 Fixes Series:

Tell us some of your experiences or accomplishments in the comments section below!

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