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This section will help you to understand the differences between the Present Perfect Tense and the Simple Past Tense. The present perfect is used when the time period has NOT finished: I have seen three movies this week. (This week has not finished yet.) I saw three movies last week. (Last week is finished.)

The simple past is used when the time period HAS finished:

The present perfect is often used when giving recent news:

Martin has crashed his car again. (This is new information.) Martin crashed his car last year. (This is old information.)

The simple past is used when giving older information:

The present perfect is used when the time is not specific:

I have seen that movie already. (We don t know when.) I saw that movie on Th rsday. (We know e!actly when.)

The simple past is used when the time is clear:

The present perfect is used with for and since" when the actions have not finished yet #

I have lived in !ictoria for five years. ($ still live in %ictoria.) I lived in !ictoria for five years. ($ don t live in %ictoria now.)

The simple past is used with for and since" when the actions have already finished#

Simple "ast #O$M &%'()*ed+ or irregular verbs '!amples#


,ou called -ebbie. %id you call -ebbie. ,ou did not call -ebbie.

/omplete List of Simple Past 0orms &S' ( )ompleted Action in the "ast

1se the Simple Past to e!press the idea that an action started and finished at a specific time in the past. Sometimes" the speaker may not actually mention the specific time" but they do have one specific time in mind. '!amples#
$ saw a movie yesterday. $ didn*t see a play yesterday. Last year" $ traveled to 2apan. Last year" $ didn*t travel to 3orea. %id you have dinner last night. She washed her car. 4e didn*t wash his car.

&S' + A Series of )ompleted Actions

We use the Simple Past to list a series of completed actions in the past. These actions happen 5st" 6nd" 7rd" 8th" and so on. '!amples#
$ finished work" walked to the beach" and fo nd a nice place to swim. 4e arrived from the airport at 9#::" checked into the hotel at ;#::" and met the others at 5:#::. %id you add flour" po r in the milk" and then add the eggs.

&S' , % ration in "ast

The Simple Past can be used with a duration which starts and stops in the past. < duration is a longer action often indicated by e!pressions such as# for two years" for five minutes" all day" all year" etc. '!amples#
$ lived in )ra=il for two years. Shauna st died 2apanese for five years. They sat at the beach all day.

They did not stay at the party the entire time. We talked on the phone for thirty minutes. <# 4ow long did you wait for them.

)# We waited for one hour. &S' - Ha.its in the "ast

The Simple Past can also be used to describe a habit which stopped in the past. $t can have the same meaning as >used to.> To make it clear that we are talking about a habit" we often add e!pressions such as# always" often" usually" never" when $ was a child" when $ was younger" etc. '!amples#
$ st died 0rench when $ was a child. 4e played the violin. 4e didn*t play the piano. %id you play a musical instrument when you were a kid. She worked at the movie theater after school. They never went to school" they always skipped class.

&S' / "ast #acts or 0enerali1ations

The Simple Past can also be used to describe past facts or generali=ations which are no longer true. <s in 1S' 8 above" this use of the Simple Past is ?uite similar to the e!pression >used to.> '!amples#
She was shy as a child" but now she is very outgoing. 4e didn*t like tomatoes before. %id you live in Te!as when you were a kid. People paid much more to make cell phone calls in the past.

IM"O$TANT 2hen3)la ses Happen #irst /lauses are groups of words which have meaning but are often not complete sentences. Some clauses begin with the word >when> such as >when $ dropped my pen...> or >when class began...> These clauses are called when@clauses" and they are very important. The e!amples below contain when@clauses. '!amples#
2hen I paid her one dollar" she answered my ?uestion. She answered my ?uestion when I paid her one dollar.

When@clauses are important because they always happen first when both clauses are in the Simple Past. )oth of the e!amples above mean the same thing# first" $ paid her one dollar" and then" she answered my

?uestion. $t is not important whether >when $ paid her one dollar> is at the beginning of the sentence or at the end of the sentence. 4owever" the e!ample below has a different meaning. 0irst" she answered my ?uestion" and then" $ paid her one dollar. '!ample#
$ paid her one dollar when she answered my 4 estion.

A%!'$5 "6A)'M'NT The e!amples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as# always" only" never" ever" still" Aust" etc. '!amples#
,ou 7 st called -ebbie. -id you 7 st call -ebbie.

A)TI!' 8 "ASSI!' '!amples#


Tom repaired the car. ACTIVE The car was repaired by Tom. PASSIVE

"resent "erfect #O$M &hasBhave * past participle+ '!amples#


,ou have seen that movie many times. Have you seen that movie many times. ,ou have not seen that movie many times.

/omplete List of Present Perfect 0orms &S' ( &nspecified Time 5efore Now

We use the Present Perfect to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The e!act time is not important. ,ou /<CCDT use the Present Perfect with specific time e!pressions such as# yesterday" one year ago" last week" when $ was a child" when $ lived in 2apan" at that moment" that day" one day" etc. We /<C use the Present Perfect with unspecific e!pressions such as# ever" never" once" many times" several times" before" so far" already" yet" etc. '!amples#
$ have seen that movie twenty times. $ think $ have met him once before. There have .een many earth?uakes in /alifornia. People have traveled to the Eoon. People have not traveled to Ears. Have you read the book yet. Cobody has ever clim.ed that mountain. <# Has there ever .een a war in the 1nited States.

)# ,es" there has .een a war in the 1nited States. How %o 9o Act ally &se the "resent "erfect: The concept of >unspecified time> can be very confusing to 'nglish learners. $t is best to associate Present Perfect with the following topics# TO"I) ( ';perience ,ou can use the Present Perfect to describe your e!perience. $t is like saying" >$ have the e!perience of...> ,ou can also use this tense to say that you have never had a certain e!perience. The Present Perfect is CDT used to describe a specific event. '!amples#
$ have .een to 0rance.

THIS SENTENCE MEANS THAT YOU HAVE HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING IN FRANCE. MAYBE YOU HAVE BEEN THERE ONCE, OR SEVERAL TIMES.
$ have .een to 0rance three times.

YOU CAN ADD THE NUMBER OF TIMES AT THE END OF THE SENTENCE.
$ have never .een to 0rance.

THIS SENTENCE MEANS THAT YOU HAVE NOT HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF GOING TO FRANCE.
$ think $ have seen that movie before. 4e has never traveled by train. 2oan has st died two foreign languages. <# Have you ever met him.

)# Co" $ have not met him. TO"I) + )hange Over Time We often use the Present Perfect to talk about change that has happened over a period of time. '!amples#
,ou have grown since the last time $ saw you. The government has .ecome more interested in arts education.

2apanese has .ecome one of the most popular courses at the university since the <sian studies

program was established.


Ey 'nglish has really improved since $ moved to <ustralia.

TO"I) , Accomplishments We often use the Present Perfect to list the accomplishments of individuals and humanity. ,ou cannot mention a specific time. '!amples#
Ean has walked on the Eoon. Dur son has learned how to read. -octors have c red many deadly diseases. Scientists have split the atom.

TO"I) - An &ncompleted Action 9o Are ';pecting We often use the Present Perfect to say that an action which we e!pected has not happened. 1sing the Present Perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action to happen. '!amples#
2ames has not finished his homework yet. Susan hasn*t mastered 2apanese" but she can communicate. )ill has still not arrived. The rain hasn*t stopped.

TO"I) / M ltiple Actions at %ifferent Times We also use the Present Perfect to talk about several different actions which have occurred in the past at different times. Present Perfect suggests the process is not complete and more actions are possible. '!amples#
The army has attacked that city five times. $ have had four ?ui==es and five tests so far this semester. We have had many maAor problems while working on this proAect. She has talked to several specialists about her problem" but nobody knows why she is sick.

Time ';pressions with "resent "erfect When we use the Present Perfect it means that something has happened at some point in our lives before now. (emember" the e!act time the action happened is not important.

Sometimes" we want to limit the time we are looking in for an e!perience. We can do this with e!pressions such as# in the last week" in the last year" this week" this month" so far" up to now" etc.

'!amples#
Have you .een to Ee!ico in the last year. $ have seen that movie si! times in the last month. They have had three tests in the last week. She graduated from university less than three years ago. She has worked for three different

companies so far.
Ey car has .roken down three times this week.

NOTI)' >Last year> and >in the last year> are very different in meaning. >Last year> means the year before now" and it is considered a specific time which re?uires Simple Past. >$n the last year> means from 7FG days ago until now. $t is not considered a specific time" so it re?uires Present Perfect. '!amples#
$ went to Ee!ico last year.

I WENT TO MEXICO IN THE CALENDAR YEAR BEFORE THIS ONE.


$ have .een to Ee!ico in the last year.

I HAVE BEEN TO MEXICO AT LEAST ONCE AT SOME POINT BETWEEN 365 DAYS AGO AND NOW. &S' + % ration #rom the "ast &ntil Now <Non3)ontin o s !er.s=

With Con@/ontinuous %erbs and non@continuous uses of Ei!ed %erbs" we use the Present Perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. >0or five minutes"> >for two weeks"> and >since Tuesday> are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect. '!amples#
$ have had a cold for two weeks. She has .een in 'ngland for si! months. Eary has loved chocolate since she was a little girl.

<lthough the above use of Present Perfect is normally limited to Con@/ontinuous %erbs and non@continuous uses of Ei!ed %erbs" the words >live"> >work"> >teach"> and >study> are sometimes used in this way even though they are CDT Con@/ontinuous %erbs. A%!'$5 "6A)'M'NT The e!amples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as# always" only" never" ever" still" Aust" etc. '!amples#
,ou have only seen that movie one time.

4ave you only seen that movie one time.

A)TI!' 8 "ASSI!' '!amples#


Eany tourists have visited that castle. ACTIVE That castle has .een visited by many tourists. PASSIVE