The Present Perfect and the Past Simple 1

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Welcome to your Present Perfect and Past Simple 1 lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• What’s the difference between the Present Perfect and the Past Simple?
Recent events
Using the two tenses in conversation
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

What’s the difference between the Present Perfect and the Past Simple?

Have a look at this example:

womanlookingforkeys

Daniella is looking for her keys. She can’t find them, so:

“She has lost her keys.”

This sentence uses the Present Perfect, and it means that she doesn’t have her keys now.

keys

Fifteen minutes later Daniella finds her key, so:

Present Perfect
“She has found her keys.”

Present Perfect
Has she lost her keys?” “No, she has found them.

Past Simple
Did she lose his keys?” “Yes, she did.

The Present Perfect Simple is a present tense. It references a present situation. “Daniella has lost her keys.” means that he doesn’t have her keys now.

The Past Simple is a past tense. It references a past situation. “Daniella lost her keys.” doesn’t tell us whether she has her keys now or not, it only tells us that she lost her keys in the past.

Careful! Do not use the Present Perfect if the current situation is different to the past situation:

They‘ve gone on holiday, they’ll be back on Monday.”
(They are away now)

They went on holiday, they’re probably back now.”
(not They’ve been …”)

 

It‘s stopped raining, we can go out.
(It’s not raining now)

It stopped raining for a while.
(It is raining now)

Recent events

The Present Perfect is used to talk about recent events or actions:

“I‘ve made dinner, enjoy!”

Have you heard the news?”

The Past Simple is used to talk about events or actions that are not recent:

Europeans discovered the Americas in 1492.”

“I lived in Scotland as a child.”

Using the two tenses in conversation

The Present Perfect is used to give new information, but when we continue to talk about this information, we use the Past Simple. Look at this conversation:

JAMES: Ow! I‘ve burnt my finger!
BOB: How did you do that?
JAMES: I touched a hot dish.”

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