Differences Between Present Perfect Tense and Simple Past Tense



Present Perfect Tense is used to express unfinished events that started in the past and continue to the present. The events are still continuing.


  • have lived in Paris for five years. ( I still live in Paris )
  • My son has been sick since Monday. ( My son is still sick )
  • He has worked in Berlin since he graduated from the university. ( He still works in Berlin )


Simple Past Tense is used to express finished events.


  • I lived in Paris for five years. ( I moved another city and now I am no living there )
  • My son was sick on Monday. ( My son isn’t sick now ) 
  • He worked in Berlin after he graduated from the university. ( He found himself a new job and he isn’t working in Berlin)


Present Perfect Tense is used to express finished events in someone’s life. ( if the person is still alive – life experience )


  • have been to England in my life.  ( I am alive )
  • He has never travelled by plane. ( He is alive )
  • Scientist have tried to invent something new. ( We are alive )


Simple Past Tense is used to express finished events in someone’s life. (if the person is dead)


  • My Mother went to America four times.  ( She is dead )
  • He travelled a lot by plane. ( He is dead )
  • They tried to invent something new. ( they are dead )


Present Perfect Tense is used to express finished events that happened at an unspecified time in the past and the impact of the event is now continuing. ( Past Event – Present Result )


  • She has lost her wallet. ( She can’t find it and I have no money now )
  • We can’t reach Paul by phone. Have you seen him?
  • Tom isn’t at school. I think he has gone to the theater.


Simple Past Tense is used to express finished events. There is no result in the present. 


  • She lost her wallet yesterday. ( I canceled my cards and bought a new wallet yesterday- there is no result now )
  • Yesterday we could reach Paul by phone ( I don’t need to reach or call Paul now – there is no result now)
  • He went to the theater two hours ago. ( now he is at school – there is no result now)


Present Perfect Tense is used with unfinished time words ( this week, today,this year etc. )The period of time is still continuing. 


  • We haven’t called him this week. ( “this week” is not over yet )
  • have eaten lots of plumps today.  ( “today” is not over yet )
  • They have had several exams this month.  ( “this month” is not over yet )

Simple Past Tense is used with finished time words ( yesterday, last week, in 2000, etc. )



  • We didn’t call him yesterday
  • ate lots of plumps last week
  • They had several exams last year


If we use a specific time in a sentence,  we should use “Simple Past Tense“.  

If we use an unspecific time in a sentence, we should use “Present Perfect Tense“.

Time words with “in the” and without “in the” have different meanings.

For example;

( last year- in the last year/ last week – in the last week / last month- in the last month )

Last month” and “in the last month” have different meanings. 

Last month” means the month before now. It is considered a specific time, so it requires Simple Past Tense.

In the last month” means from 30 days ago until now ( at some point between 30 days ago and now ) . It is not considered a specific time, so it requires Present Perfect Tense.


  • We haven’t received any mail in the last month.      
  • We didn’t receive any mail last month.
  • I have solved many problems in the last year.
  • I solved many problems last year

For Present Perfect Tense click here

For Simple Past Tense click here

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