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Historical and Contemporary Explorers

In this lesson we’re looking at texts about explorers in English.

There’s going to be lots of new vocabulary so be sure to click the dictionary link if you’re stuck. We’re also looking at the Present Perfect in detail.

Have fun with the lesson, and don’t forget to try the quizzes.

– James.

Lesson Contents

A Historical Explorer

Sir John Smith


Sir John Smith was an English soldier and explorer who played an important role in the establishment of the Jamestown colony, the first permanent English settlement in North America.

After Jamestown was founded in 1607, Smith trained the first settlers to farm, thus saving the colony from early devastation. Under Smith’s leadership, Jamestown flourished as a colony.

In 1608 Smith led a scouting troop to explore the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly needed food, covering an estimated 3,000 miles (nearly 5,000 km).

Even after his death in 1631, Smith’s maps and notes were vital tools for other explorers at that time.

A Contemporary Explorer

Harry Jones


Harry Jones is on a four-month hiking trip across the USA. He started in his home town of Little Rock, Maine, and plans to walk to San Diego in California. So far he’s walked 2,800 miles.

“The worst part is right now, I’m in the mountains in Arizona and it’s really hot during the day, and freezing cold at night.”

“I’ve been through 14 states so far. I walked mostly, but I have to admit I’ve cheated once or twice by taking public transport.”

When asked why he decided to undertake this adventure, Harry said “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and last year I thought, why not?”

Read the sentences and decide if they are describing Sir. John Smith, or Harry Jones.

Using the present perfect

Most languages have present tenses to talk about the present, and past tenses to talk about the past. English has these too, but it also has the Present Perfect, which is for past events that have a connection to the present. The Present Perfect has three main uses:

  1. Unfinished past

The verb started in the past and continuous into the present. It is possible that the action continues into the future as well.

We‘ve lived in this town for thirty years.

Sorry I’m late, have you been waiting long?

When talking about an unfinished past, there is usually very little difference between the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous.

  1. Present result

The verb started in the past (usually the recent past) and the results of the action are felt now:

I need to go on a diet, I‘ve put on some weight.

I‘ve been running. I’m so tired!

  1. Indefinite past

The verb happened at an unspecified time in the past. The actual time of the verb is not important, we’re concentrating on the experience.

Have you ever met Dick? 
(in your life)

He‘s climbed a mountain. 
(in his life)

Match the halves of the present perfect sentences by looking at the context and the conjugation.

Complete the sentences using the past simple or the present perfect simple versions of the verbs.

All Quizzes