The Past Simple and the Present Perfect

To learn the difference between the present perfect and the passt simple, compare the following sentences: 

    1. I have read a book about natural phenomena. (Present Perfect)
    2. I read a book about natural phenomena last week. (Past Simple)

What we notice is that in the present perfect sentence, we do not use a specific time reference to tell when the action happened because what matters here is the action itself. 

In the simple past sentence, we use a time reference to tell when the action happened because what we care about here is the time not the action.

In the following quiz, you have to distinguish between the present perfect and the past simple. When doing the quiz, remember the following that we use a clear reference to the past with the past simple, but we do not use a reference to the past with the present perfect.

The Past Simple

It indicates that an activity or situation began and ended at a particular time in the past.

Example:

He lived in Paris for ten years, but now he lives in Rome.

Form:

We add (ed) to the regular verb. 

ex. They played basketball yesterday. 

If the verb is one of the irregular verbs, we use the second form of the verb in the table of irregular verbs.  

ex. We went to the movie last week. 

Forming Questions : 

To form a question, we have to use the helping verb (did) before the subject. 

For example,

Affirmative: The police arrested the criminal last night. 

Question: Did the police arrest the criminal last night? 

We notice that when we use (did) we do not use the main verb in the past, because we already have the helping verb (did) refering to the past. 

Forming Negations: 

To form negation, we have to use the helping verb (did) in order to add (not) to the sentence.

For example,

Affirmative: The police arrested the criminal last night. 

Negation: The police did not arrest the criminal last night. 

The Present Perfect

The present perfect expresses the idea that something happened (or never happened) before now, at an unspecified time in the past.

Example:

They have moved into a new apartment.

The present perfect also, when used with for or since, expresses a situation that began in the past and continues to the present.

Examples:

  1. a) I have been here since seven o’clock.
  2. b) She has known him for many years.

Form:

We use the helping verb (have) before the main verb. The main verb must be in the past participle form. 

ex. The boy has finished his homework.

ex. The boys have finished their homework. 

Forming Questions: 

To form a question, we have to flip between the helping verb (have or has) with the subject. 

For example,

Affirmative: The police has arrested the criminal. 

Question: Have the police arrested the criminal? 

Forming Negations: 

To form negation, we have to add (not) to the helping verb (have or has).

For example,

Affirmative: The police have arrested the criminal. 

Negation: The police have not arrested the criminal. 

Quiz

In the following quiz, you have to distinguish between the present perfect and the past simple. When doing the quiz, remember the following:

a. we use a clear reference to the past with the past simple,

b. we do not use a reference to the past with the present perfect.

Example,

  • I have read a book. Present Perfect
  • I read a book last week. Past Simple

[qsm quiz=13]

Click here to check your grammar. 

To know more about the preparation for the English official tests, click on the test that you wish to learn about: 

TOEIC

IELTS

TOEFL

SAT

GMAT

BULATS / Linguaskill 

Cambridge

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