Still, yet, already – What’s the difference?

 
Already, still, yet – What’s the difference?

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Already

 
We use already when something happens earlier than expected, or earlier than something else.

  • I am already home. (=You expected me to be home later.)
  • “Do you want to eat?” “No thanks. I’ve already eaten.”
  • When you arrive, I will already be there. 

We normally use already in questions and affirmative sentences, not in negative sentences. In negative sentences, we normally use yet.

  • It’s 6 o’clock and it’s already dark.
  • Is it already dark? It’s only 6 o’clock!
  • BUT: It isn’t dark yet. (NOT: It isn’t already dark.)

 

Position of already in a sentence

 
Already normally goes in the middle of the sentence, in mid position. The mid position is:

➪ Before the verb but after the verb be when it’s the only verb in a sentence:

  • He already has a driving license. 
  • I’m already in bed.

➪ After a modal or auxiliary verb. If there is a verb with two or more words, the mid position is after the first word:

  • I am already eating.
  • I have already eaten.
  • She will already be home when you arrive.

➪ In questions, the mid position is after the subject:

  • Are you already home?
  • Have you already finished?

In informal language, it’s also possible to put already at the end:

  • He has a driving license already
  • Are you in bed already?

 

Already and yet in questions

 
We can use both already and yet in questions but usually, the meaning is a bit different.

We use already to ask about things that we know or think are true or have happened (and probably we didn’t expect them to happen until later). 

  • Have you already finished your project? That was fast! (= I didn’t expect you to finish so soon.)
  • Has the bus already left? / Has the bus left already? (= I know the bus has left or has probably left.)

We use yet to ask if something has happened or not. We don’t know if it has happened.

  • Have you finished your project yet? (= I don’t know if you have finished your project. I want to know.)
  • Has the bus left yet? (= I’m not sure whether the bus has left or not. I want to know.)

 

Still

 
We use still to say that something is continuing. It has not changed or stopped.

  • He is still in the shower. 
  • Is it still raining?
  • She is still living with her parents. 
  • When I called he was still in bed.
  • I will still be here when you come back.

We sometimes use still to show that we feel surprised or impatient about a situation. This is more common in negative sentences, usually with present perfect.

  • I’m still waiting!
  • I still can’t understand why you lost.
  • I still haven’t found my wallet.

 

Position of still in a sentence

 
Still normally goes in the middle of the sentence, in mid position. Mid position is:

➪ Before the verb but after the verb be when it’s the only verb in a sentence:

  • He still works in a bank. 
  • I am still angry.

➪ After a modal or auxiliary verb. If there is a verb with two or more words, the mid position is after the first word:

  • I am still waiting.
  • I will still be here when you arrive.

➪ In questions, the mid position is after the subject:

  • Are you still there?
  • Do you still love me?

In negative sentences, still goes before the negative verb:

  • I still can’t find it.
  • She still hasn’t arrived.

 

Yet

 
We use yet when we are waiting for something to happen or expecting something to happen. We use yet in negative sentences to say that this thing that we are expecting to happen has not happened.

  • She hasn’t called yet. (= I’m waiting for her to call, but she hasn’t done it.)
  • I haven’t done my homework yet
  • He is not here yet.

We also use yet in questions to ask if this thing that we are expecting to happen has already happened.

  • Is she here yet
  • Have you done your homework yet?
  • Has he called yet?

 

Position of yet in a sentence

 
Yet is normally used at the end of the sentence.

  • When she met us, we weren’t married yet.
  • I haven’t seen that movie yet
  • Have you signed the contract yet?

 

Still and yet

 
We can use still and yet in negative sentences to talk about something that didn’t happen or wasn’t true in the past and continues not to happen or not to be true in the present. The meaning of still and yet in these sentences is very similar, but often still shows that the speaker is more impatient or surprised.

  • She hasn’t called yet. (= I expect she will call sometime soon.)
  • She still hasn’t called. (= Why hasn’t she called yet?!)
  • She hasn’t finished school yet. (= She will finish sometime soon.)
  • She still hasn’t finished school. (= I’m surprised because she shouldn’t be in school at her age.)

 

British vs American English

 
In British English, it’s more common to use yet and already with the present perfect.

  • “Do you want a sandwich?” “No thanks, I’ve already had lunch.”
  • “Have you finished your homework yet?”

In American English, it’s more common to use yet and already with the past simple.

  • “Do you want a sandwich?” “No thanks, I already had lunch.”
  • Did you finish your homework yet?