Present perfect or past simple?

English grammar – Present perfect or past simple?

One easy way to make your English sound much more natural is to remember when to use the present perfect and when to use the past simple.

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Form:

Present perfect

Subject

Have/has

Past participle

He

has

eaten

We

have

been.

Past simple

Subject

Past verb

He

ate

We

went

When to use present perfect:

Use the present perfect if:

  • you are talking about a finished action with a result now

  • you are talking about an unfinished time (today, this week, this year, life of a living person)

Present perfect

Subject

Have/has

Past participle

Unfinished time

He

has

eaten

today

We

have

been

this week

When to use past simple:

Use the past simple if:

  • you are talking about a finished action which doesn’t have a result now

  • you are talking about a finished time (yesterday, last week, last year, life of a dead person)

Past simple

Subject

Past verb

Finished time

He

ate

yesterday

We

went

last week

Practice time!

Choose the best way to complete each sentence – present perfect or past simple? Check your answers at the bottom of the page!

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Answers

1

This year has been a difficult year for him.

“This year” is an unfinished time.

2

The street was crowded yesterday.

“Yesterday” is a finished time.

3

They have been happy together so far.

“So far” is an unfinished time.

4

She has lost lots of weight this year.

“This year” is an unfinished time.

5

He spent lots of time outside last year.

“Last year” is a finished time.

How do you feel about using the present perfect and past simple? Remember these rules and your English will sound more natural and beautiful!

Any questions? Use the comments box to ask or follow my page on Facebook for more practice exercises.

 

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