As a speech apprentice, you may be quite confused about the dispute between the present perfective and the elementary past tenses. After all, they both refer to events that already happened and are now in the past. I hope by the time you finish reading this stake, the differences are absolved in your head and you ’ ll never be confused about the two again !


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The English Tenses: A Brief Introduction

Before I go into the details of the simple past and the present perfect, it ’ south significant that you amply understand the concept of tenses in English. well, what are tenses ? Tenses, as some of you may already know, are a way of measuring meter. Tenses tell us whether a particular action has already happened, is happening or will happen. Every conviction we speak or write in English is in one of these tenses. indeed how do we determine the tense being used when looking at a sentence ? The answer is simple. The verbs we use tell us which tense is being used. If the verb form changes, the tense changes ( and frailty versa ). In English, there are three main tenses : past, present and future. here ’ s a elementary flim-flam to remember which is which. When we talk about any event or action ( let ’ s say, eating a cookie ), it can only happen in one of these three times : It happened yesterday or even earlier ( Past ) : I talked to Mary yesterday. It happened today or right now ( Present ) : I am talking to Mary on the earphone. It will happen tomorrow or even late ( Future ) : I will talk tho Mary at work tomorrow. I personally found the model of using y esterday, today and t omorrow to memorize the three tenses of past, present and future to be very utilitarian. Plus, it ’ s a good way to start learning basic tenses if you ’ re a novice. ( Of course, even if something happened a few minutes or hours ago, it ’ mho besides in the past—but this is a well basic flim-flam for remembering which strain is used for which “ time ” ! ). once you ’ re confident, we can look at them in greater detail and focus on the exceptions. You might have noticed how the verb “ to talk ” changed depending on the tense of the sentence. indeed, if you ’ re going to master tenses, you need to know :

  • How and when to change the verbs (such as ate, eat, eating and eaten)
  • Which helping verbs to use (such as have, will, is and so on) in certain cases

now, each of these three tenses can be farther divided into four “ substitute ” tenses. These are simple, continuous, perfect and perfect continuous. The best way to explain this is to rewrite the above model in each of the sub-tenses. For now, don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate worry about why we have to use then many tenses. alternatively, barely focus on how the verb ( “ to read ” ) is changing in each. Or you could try writing them on your own and checking the answers below.

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Past Tense:

simple Past : I talked to Mary yesterday. Past Continuous : I was talking to Mary when you came in. past Perfect : I had talked to Mary before eating dinner. Past Perfect Continuous : I had been talking to Mary for two hours before we last hung up.

Present Tense:

simpleton Present : I talk to Mary at least once a day. confront continuous : I am talking to Mary mighty now. present Perfect : I have talked to Mary before. present Perfect Continuous : I have been talking to Mary for three hours now.

Future Tense:

simple future : I will talk to Mary tomorrow. future Continuous : I will be talking to Mary on the trail ride tomorrow. future Perfect : I will have talked to Mary by next week. future Perfect Continuous : I will have been talking to Mary for two hours at 3:00. now that you ’ ve reviewed the basics of tenses, let ’ s move on to the remainder between past simpleton and present perfective. If you still aren ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate spirit confident, consider brushing up on your cognition of how to use tenses before continuing.

The Past Simple

What Is It and When Do We Use It?

The past elementary ( besides called the childlike past ), as the name suggests, is the tense we use to talk about any natural process or event that has already happened. furthermore, we use this tense when we know the exact or specific details of the time of the event ( such as yesterday, the previous winter, last class, five hours ago and sol on ). In early words, the event is already over and finished. here are some examples : I wrote a few lines of the story in my notebook last week. He went on an exchange program two years ago. She ate the integral pie yesterday. I talked to Maria on the call five minutes ago. In each exercise, the carry through was finished within a certain time frame. In short, the childlike past is used when talk about events that already finished. We may besides use this tense when we want to focus on telling people about the action. here are two examples : We danced a draw at the party.

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I walked home from school. In both cases, the focus is on telling of the carry through ( “ dancing a lot, ” “ walking dwelling ” ) that took identify in the past and not on the results or consequences of the action. We ’ rhenium fair talking about an event in the past and aren ’ triiodothyronine discussing the possible effects of it. If you ’ re still confused, no worries. This point will become clear once we get to present arrant. To sum up, we use the elementary by to refer to an consequence or an natural process that took place in “finished time” or to plainly focus on talking about the action itself.

Verb Forms to Use with the Past Simple

To write a conviction in the simple by, we have to convert the verb to its simple past shape. But verb junction can be catchy to get a hang of. For regular verb, there are a few rules regarding how to convert them. But for atypical verbs, you need to memorize the verb forms. Let ’ s take a regular verb like to walk and an irregular verb like to eat, for exemplar. She walked home from the party. ( We added an “ -ed ” to “ walk ” ) He ate a pizza for dinner. ( “ Eat ” changes to “ eat ” ) If you ’ rhenium spirit intimidated or confused about verb conjugations, preceptor ’ thyroxine worry ! All it takes is a bite of exercise and soon it ’ ll become second base nature.

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The Present Perfect

What Is It and When Do We Use It?

here ’ s the catchy region. Yes, the present perfect is one of the forms of the present tense. But we normally use it to talk about events that have already happened. These events may be ongoing or completed but normally, the events took home recently and the time is unspecified. In early words, present arrant is listed under the give tense because the event normally took plaza good immediately or recently. therefore, it ’ south still “ connected ” to the present. Does that make sense ? Of course, if we ’ re talking about a diachronic event or something that happened many years ago, we use the by tense. Take a look at these two examples : I have written a few lines already. ( It took identify recently. ) My conserve and I have known each other for five years now. ( evening though the time is mentioned here, the action is however ongoing or continuing into the present—we still know each early. ) But in most cases of the salute perfect, the clock of the action is “unfinished” or unspecified, like in this exercise : He has been on an exchange course of study to Sweden. ( The time international relations and security network ’ t specified ) We besides use this tense when the focus is more on the “result” of the action alternatively of the “ telling ” of the military action. For case : She has eaten the pie all by herself. ( The concenter is on the result of the action—the pie is now finished by her ! ) “Have you done your homework ? ” ( A yes/no answer is wanted. )

Verb Forms to Use with the Present Perfect

Another direction to differentiate between the two tenses is to just look at the verb used. In the elementary past, we use merely one verb and it ’ s used in the “ past ” imprint. In the present perfective, we use the helping verb has or have along with the “participle” form of the independent verb ( which is the verb that indicates the action ). In other words, to convert a verb to the show perfect, we can use this simple formula : has/have + participle form of the verb so if the verb is to fly, then the present perfective kind would be : has/have + vanish, as in the follow examples : The birds have flown away. My positron emission tomography parrot has flown away. For regular verb, the participle and simple past forms are the lapp. For irregular verbs, the participle forms must be memorized.

Present Perfect vs Past Simple: The Key Differences

By now, you understand the key differences between the past simple and the present perfective. here ’ s a promptly drumhead of what we ’ ve learned so far :

  • The past simple and the present perfect refer to two different tenses. As their names suggest, one refers to the past and the other to the present.
  • We use the simple past to refer to an event/action that has already finished or happened, and the time is usually certain and specified. It always refers to finished time.
  • We also use the simple past when we’re more interested in the “telling” of an action and not on the results of the action.
  • The present perfect is used when the event/action took place very recently or the time isn’t specified.
  • The present perfect is also used when we’re more interested in the results or consequences of the action/event, as the result is usually linked to the present.
  • The simple past uses a single verb (the simple past form of the verb) while the present perfect uses two verbs (has/have + participle form of the verb).
  • The easiest way to remember is that the action/event in past simple refers to “finished” time while in present perfect, it suggests there’s still a connection to the present.
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Practice What You’ve Learned

now that you know the differences, it ’ mho time to put your cognition to test. here are a few simple and short quizzes and exercises that test your understand of these two tenses .

  • This is a simple fill-in-the-blanks quiz where you have to choose the right word or phrase from a drop-down list. It’s a pretty good way to know if you’ve grasped the basics or not.
  • English Page: Another simple one, in this quiz you have to fill-in-the-blanks for a paragraph by using the right form of the verb. To make it easier, they also offer hints.
  • English Grammar Online: This site also summarizes the differences between the two tenses, followed by several in-depth exercises and three practice tests. Try these out once you’re confident enough.
  • AgendaWeb: Finally, if you’re feeling brave enough, you can try the exercises listed here. There are plenty of them so you can try solving them from time to time as revision or for extra practice.

Besides this list, you can besides try to commit by watching these tenses in military action. In other words, you should get a draw of vulnerability to English conversations and sentences. Carefully study phrases for when the tenses are used and see how the verb are working with the early words around it. This kind of practice is besides pretty easy to do. You can read english books or magazines, listen to English music or watch english videos, television receiver shows and movies. Basically, you can consume any english media that would show natural-sounding sentences ! For a more steer approach, the linguistic process learning platform FluentU can help show the confront perfect and the past elementary in context. Its video come with synergistic subtitles where you can click on a bible for its definition and basic grammatical data ( including tense ). You can besides review verbs in their different tenses, along with early vocabulary, with multimedia flashcards and quizzes. I hope this post has cleared the confusion between the present perfect and the past dim-witted tenses. immediately you know how you can placid use present strain to talk about a past event. Yes, the english speech is curious like that. The good news is, the more you practice the better you ’ ll be. indeed be consistent and motivated about learn and you ’ ll be fluent in English before you know it !

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Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, diarist, editor program and educator. Feel free to check out her web log or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries. Download: This blog post is available as a commodious and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. ( Download )

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