Difference between present perfect and simple past

I have done or I did?
Difference between present perfect tense and simple past tense

When to use the past simple & the present perfect?

  • We use the past simple when the action started in the past, finished in the past, and is not continuing now.
  • We use the present perfect when the action started in the past and it has effect now.

Comparison between the past simple & the present perfect.

  • The sun rose at 6:00 am.
    (We know that the sun came up at a time in the past and it is not rising now. The sun may or may not be in the sky when this statement is made. The time is important to add.)
  • Samir ate lunch early.
    (Eating lunch has started and ended in the past. Someone might say this when the time for eating lunch has also ended. Lunch happened early, and it is over now.)
  • The sun has risen.
    (We know that the sun already rose, and it is still in the sky now.)
  • Sami has eaten lunch.
    (Sami started and finished eating lunch in the past, but lunch time is still going on. Someone might say this when others are preparing to eat lunch, and they want to know whether Sami will join them.)

Keywords the Past simple & the present perfect

In the past simple:
Yesterday, last week, last night, at 4 o’clock, in 2005, five months ago, on Sunday, ten minutes ago.

In the present perfect:
Just, yet, never, already, ever, so far, up to now, recently, since, for.

Actions which happened in the past, but have an effect in the present

In this case, the action happened at some time in the past, but the effect of the action is still important now. It’s easiest to understand this use if we compare present perfect sentences with simple past sentences.

In the Present Perfect
I’ve lost my keys.
The meaning: I don’t have the keys. They are still missing.

In the Simple Past
I lost my keys yesterday.
The meaning: I didn’t have them yesterday, but maybe today I found them.

In the Present Perfect
She has broken her arm.
The meaning: The arm is still injured.

In the Simple Past
She broke her arm.
The meaning: The arm is probably OK now.

Definition of the present perfect tense

The present perfect is used to indicate a link between the present and the past. The time of the action is before now but not specified, and we are often more interested in the result than in the action itself.

Practice with sentences of the past simple & the present perfect.

  • We arrived at 5:00.
  • I saw Mary yesterday.
  • I lost my key last week.
  • We played golf last week.
  • I cycled to college yesterday.
  • I’ve forgotten his name.
  • I finished my work at 2 o’clock.
  • Ali went home ten minutes ago.
  • We didn’t have a holiday last year.
  • I played tennis yesterday afternoon.
  • The weather was not very good yesterday.
  • Abdullah’s grandmother died two years ago.
  • I switched off the light before going out this morning.
  • She hasn’t washed her hands.
  • These cups are clean. My sister has washed them.
  • The table’s next to the sofa now. We have moved it.
  • You can use your bike now. I have repaired it.
  • Adam looks different. He has lost a lot of weight.
  • She can’t walk. She has broken her leg.
  • The boys aren’t here. They have taken their friends to the airport.
  • It has stooped raining. We can leave now.
  • I can’t open the door. My mother has locked it.
  • Let’s take some photos. I have brought my camera.

Questions and Answers in the past simple & the present perfect.

  • What’s in that box? I don’t know. I have not opened it.
  • Are Joe and Nicole here? No, They have not come home.
  • Is he going to her party? No, She has not invited him.
  • Where are my keys? I don’t know. I have not seen them.
  • Is Luke ready? No, He has not packed his bag.
  • Is the television on? Yes, we have turned it off.
  • Is that a good book? I don’t know. I have not read it.
  • What did you do yesterday? I did my homework yesterday.
  • Did you go anywhere? No, I did not.
  • Did Sam and Sally come with you? Yes, they did.
  • How did you get there? I took a taxi.
  • Where did you meet Lucy? I met her at a restaurant.
  • Did you have a good time? Yes, I did.

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