When I've phoned Jane, we can have dinner.
Could you help me to explain the difference between the two sentences:
1. When I've phoned Jane, we can have dinner.
2. When I phone Jane, we can have dinner.
The difference is very slight.
Our knowledge of the world tells us that we don't begin and end meals during a phone call. OK, there just could be situation in which we sit around a dinner table waiting for someone to phone Jane so that we can start eating. But this is so unusual that speaker would need to say
When I phone Jane, we can start our dinner.
Even this is a bit awkward. I would prefer
We can start dinner when I phone Jane.
I've realised that there's a further possibility.
Normally, sentences like  and  would refer to one future occasion for the phone call and one occasion after that for the dinner.
However, sentence  could just about be used to refer to a general condition for many occasions. To make such a meaning clear, I would say
Whenever I phone Jane, we can have dinner.
In this situation, the time-gap is irrelevant. I wouldn't be happy with
Whenever I've phoned Jane, we can have dinner.
As I see it, this meaning sees each example of a phone call followed by dinner as a single two-part occasion. The speaker would refer to a possible number of such occasions in the future.
Thank you, David. Your analysis is very interesting and helpful.
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