Differences Between Present Perfect Tense and Simple Past Tense

PRESENT PERFECT TENSE & SIMPLE PAST TENSE

1.

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




Examples:

  • 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 )




HOWEVER;

Simple Past Tense is used to express finished events.

Examples:

  • 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)

2.

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

Examples:

  • 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 )

HOWEVER;

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

Examples:

  • 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 )

3.

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 )

Examples:

  • 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.

HOWEVER;

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

Examples:

  • 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)

4.

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

Examples:

  • 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. )

HOWEVER;

Examples:

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

ATTENTION:

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.

Examples:

  • 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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