English Tenses: Past Simple vs. Present Perfect

The present perfect can cause a lot of confusion for English learners because it is actually used in several different ways.


1. Simple Past Tense

Form:    

Subject + regular verb-ed or irregular verb (V2 form, Past Simple)       

Use:    

  • Finished time

We lived Japan in from 1995-1998. (a time period that started and ended in the past)

  • Definite time

I saw the Eiffel Tower in 2007.

  • Series of finished actions

First, he read book and then he watched movie.

  • Repeated actions

He went to the cinema every weekend last year.

Time phrases:

  • yesterday
  • ago
  • last
  • in 1994, etc.
  • in the 20th century,etc.
  • in July, etc.
  • on Monday, etc.
  • ...        

2. Present Perfect Tense

Form:

Subject + regular verb-ed or irregular verb (V3 form, Past Participle)

Use:

  • Unfinished time

I've worked as a teacher since 2011. (a time period that started in the past, and continues until now)

  • Indefinite time

I have seen the Eiffel Tower.

  • Experience

Have you ever seen this movie?

  • Result

She has already watched this movie 3 times.

Time Phrases:

  • already
  • just
  • yet
  • ever
  • never
  • for
  • since
  • ...  

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English Tenses: Past Simple vs. Present Perfect

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