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Had Done vs. Have Done: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 6, 2023
"Had done" is the past perfect tense, used for an action completed before another past action. "Have done" is the present perfect tense, used for actions impacting the present.

Key Differences

"Had done" is used in the past perfect tense to indicate an action completed before a specific time or another action in the past. In contrast, "have done" is in the present perfect tense, showing an action that has relevance to the present moment or is not confined to a specific past time.
While "had done" often sets the stage for another past action, creating a sequence of events, "have done" connects past actions to the present, often without a specified timeline.
"Had done" is frequently used in storytelling to describe events that had been completed before the story's current events. "Have done", however, is more common in daily conversations to describe experiences or accomplishments up to the present.
When using "had done", the focus is on the completion of an action before another past event. In contrast, "have done" emphasizes the completion of an action that still holds relevance or effects in the present.
In terms of structure, "had done" is used with a subject followed by "had" and the past participle of a verb. "Have done", on the other hand, follows a subject with "have" or "has" and the past participle.

Comparison Chart


Past Perfect
Present Perfect


Completed action before another past action
Action completed in the past with present relevance

Common Contexts

Storytelling, historical narratives
Daily conversation, experiences

Temporal Focus

Two past actions
Connection between past and present

Structural Formation

Subject + had + past participle
Subject + have/has + past participle

Had Done and Have Done Definitions

Had Done

Used to show a past action affecting another past situation.
They had done all the preparations before the guests arrived.

Have Done

Indicates actions with present relevance.
She has done her research, and it shows in her presentation.

Had Done

Expresses a completed action in a past timeline.
By the time the meeting started, he had done the necessary calculations.

Have Done

Used for actions completed at an unspecified time before now.
I have done my homework.

Had Done

Utilized in storytelling to set a past narrative context.
The hero had done many brave deeds before the story began.

Have Done

Expresses a connection between past actions and the present.
He has done all the necessary calculations for today's meeting.

Had Done

Indicates the completion of an action before another past action.
She had done her research before writing the paper.

Have Done

Shows experiences up to the current moment.
They have done extensive travel in Europe.

Had Done

Refers to an action completed before a certain past time.
I had done my homework before dinner.

Have Done

Utilized to discuss recent accomplishments or experiences.
We have done all we could to prepare for the event.


In which tense is 'had done' used?

It's used in the past perfect tense.

What is 'had done' used for?

It's used for actions completed before a specific past time or event.

Can 'had done' express a sequence of past events?

Yes, it often sets a timeline of past actions.

Is 'have done' used for recent actions?

Yes, especially when these actions impact the present.

How does 'had done' relate to other past actions?

It usually precedes another past action or time.

How is 'have done' different?

It refers to actions completed at an unspecified time with relevance to the present.

Can 'have done' be used in formal situations?

Yes, it's appropriate in formal and informal settings.

Does 'have done' indicate ongoing action?

Not necessarily, it indicates completed action affecting the present.

What's the structure for using 'had done'?

Subject + had + past participle.

Is 'had done' suitable for formal writing?

Yes, especially in historical or narrative contexts.

Is 'have done' used in questions?

Yes, especially when asking about recent actions or experiences.

What tense is 'have done' in?

Present perfect tense.

Does 'had done' imply completion?

Yes, it implies complete action before another past event.

Is 'had done' common in everyday conversation?

It's less common than 'have done' in casual speech.

Can 'have done' refer to life experiences?

Yes, it's often used for experiences up to the present.

What's the structure for 'have done'?

Subject + have/has + past participle.

Does 'had done' require a specific past reference point?

Usually, it refers to a specific past time or action.

Can 'have done' be used without a specific time reference?

Yes, it often lacks a specific past time reference.

How frequently is 'have done' used?

Very frequently, in both spoken and written English.

Can 'had done' be used in conditional sentences?

Yes, often in the third conditional.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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