Today, let’s have a look at the difference between how to use the simple past and present perfect. Do you know how to use these tenses? Have a look at today’s lesson and then check your understanding with the quiz at the end of the lesson.
Situation #1 – Has the action finished or not?
We can use the simple past with for when the action has finished.
- I worked at that company for 10 years. I don’t work there anymore.
- Steve lived in Miami for three months. Steve doesn’t live there anymore.
We can use present perfect with for or since when the action has not finished.
- I have worked at that company for 10 years. I still work there.
- Steve has lived in Miami for three months. Steve still lives there.
Situation #2 – Is the time specific or not?
We can use the simple past when we know the specific time.
- I ate some delicious curry last night.
- Steve lived in Miami last year.
We can use present perfect when we don’t know the specific time.
- I have seen Casablanca many times. We know his experience, but we don’t know when.
- Steve has lived in Miami and Mexico City. We know his experience, but we don’t know when.
Situation #3 – Has the time period ended or not?
We can use the simple past when the time period has finished
- I saw Casablanca last night. Last night has finished.
- Steve lived in Miami last year. Last year has finished.
We can use present perfect when the time period has not finished.
- I have seen Casablanca twice this week. This week has not finished.
- Steve has lived in Miami all his life. All his life means Steve is still living, the time period “all his life” has not finished.
Situation #4 – Is this recent information, or old information
We can use the simple past when we talk about some old news:
- I saw Casablanca when I lived in Miami.
- Steve moved away from New York when he went to college.
We can use present perfect when we talk about some recent news, and we often use words like “again” or “recently” when we do:
- I have seen Casablanca again.
- Steve has moved back to Mexico City recently.
Simple Past Vs Present Perfect Quiz
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