In Grammar By Irina

Present Perfect vs. Past Simple

Being a non-English speaking people, we all need to be aware that the Russian and English languages ​​often use a different logic. We go around three times, the British carriers are many more. Let us try to understand their logic.

Today, we shall understand, what is the difference of the Present Perfect Past Simple.

The difference lies in the very names of the times: Present Perfect (present perfect tense), Past Simple (habitual past tense).

In the case of the Present Perfect (present perfect tense), acts committed in the past, it has a direct relationship with the present moment.

I have received your letter. Now I have all the necessary information. Thank you!

If we make a word for word translation of this proposal, we will get a clear manifestation of the logic of the names of the time:

I have received a letter. Now I have all the necessary information. Thank you.


We have done our homework! We can go to the cinema now!
We have done the homework. Now we can go to the movies.

Present Perfect is used in the case where the action itself is important, but not the exact time when it occurs. The result is important in the present:

We have already ordered the pizza. It’ll be delivered soon.
We have already ordered a pizza. It will soon be delivered.

Time in this situation is not the main, the result is important that the pizza will soon be delivered, ie. A. The order has been made.

We have moved into our new house! You can finally come and see us!
We moved into a new house! You finally can come to us!

This example also shows that this result is significant. Now, after the move, we are finally able to receive visitors.

When comparing the Present Perfect and Past Simple, we will see that in the case of Past Simple exact time of execution of action is important.

We ordered the pizza two hours ago.
We ordered pizza 2:00 back.

They bought their new apartment last month.
They bought a new apartment last month.

In both cases there is a clear indication of the execution time.

It is worth paying attention to the fact that the specified time Past Simple always refers to the past, this time finally expired and has no connection with the present.

My friend went to India in 1995.

1995 has ended, due to this it does not have.

They met in a small café yesterday.

They met at the cafe yesterday. Yesterday already completely in the past.

When I was a child I liked playing hide-and-seek.

When I was a child — period of time, completely left behind.

Present Perfect requires a «vague» inaccurate indicator of time. They do not belong exclusively to the past, but spill over into the present and is used to express actions which lasted from the past to the present.

I have always loved dancing.

I’ve always loved to dance. I had this affection in the past and have it still.

I have not seen him for ages.

I have not seen him for a long time. I have not seen a period of time that began in the past and continues to the present day.

Her parents have not met a lot lately.

Her parents had not seen lately. The action lasts from the past to the present.

Pay attention!

  • Last time — has a value of «last time.»
  • Lately — it means «the last time», because these two pointers will be used in different times.

The last time I went to the shop … (period of time finally expired)

Lately I have read a lot of books. (time period continues to the present day)

Let us again compare the Past Simple and the Present Perfect. Pay attention to the time and changing the context!

Past Simple Present Perfect
He always loved singing.

He always loved to sing. If you consider the fact that in the Past Simple indicates the time that has elapsed and has no connection with this, we can assume that our hero, unfortunately, died, and love to sing it is, unfortunately, can not.

He has always loved singing.

«He always loved to sing,» so can talk about his son’s mother is now a famous singer. The time specified in the offer, still lasts. He loved and still loves to sing. His passion for singing has not passed.

She never appeared in musicals.

She never played in musicals. Unfortunately, our heroine has no more chance to play in a musical, because it is not alive.

She has never appeared in musicals.

She never played in musicals so far, but she still has a chance to appear there.

My husband worked there for 3 years.

My husband worked there for 3 years, but there is not working. This period of his life ended, has no connection with the present.

My husband has worked there for 3 years.

My husband worked there for 3 years. He was there working so far.

Past Simple — time, finally left in the past. Present Perfect — effect of having the result in the present. Now you will know how to distinguish from the Present Perfect Past Simple.

It is important to remember that the latest news is transmitted in the Present Perfect.

The train has crashed today morning.

Jane has had a baby!

However, if the news is followed by details of the event, then used Past Simple. In this case, it triggered «economy of language.» This time is more convenient to transmit large amounts of information in the past.

The train has crashed today morning. The accident happened near Munich. (Details are served in the Past Simple)

The medical equipment exhibition has opened in Paris. (news served in the Present Perfect) It was opened by the Minister of Health. (Details are served in the Past Simple)

Once again, give the word markers, makes it easier to sort out what time you need to use.

Past Simple Present Perfect
Last week / month / year
In 1998 ….
3 hours / minutes ago
For (only for situations which ceased)
This week / month / year

And now try to pass the following test:



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