Past Simple vs Present Perfect

Verbs

Past Simple and Present Perfect are tenses slightly different in form and meaning.

The Past Simple is used to talk about situations that occurred and concluded in the past.

The Present Perfect is used to talk about completed actions which have occurred in the past which are connected to the present and still have effects on it.

The Past Simple of regular verbs in their Affirmative form has this structure:
Subject + past form of the verb.

The Present Perfect of regular verbs in their Affirmative form has this structure:
Subject + auxiliary verb “to have” + past participle (“has” for third person singular).

Past Simple:

  • I lived in Chicago for 10 years, now I live in San Diego.
  • We played the piano for 3 years, we stopped last year.
  • They were together for a year, they are not together anymore.

Present Perfect:

  • I have lived in Chicago for 10 years, I still live in Chicago.
  • We have played the piano for 3 years, we play every day.
  • They have been together for a year, they are still together.

We use Past Simple to express short/long finished actions and eventsrepeated events and habits which occurred in the past, with “finished” time expressions (two weeks ago, last year, in 2010, yesterday, etc.).

We use Present Perfect to express short/long unfinished actions and events, past situations with results in the present, with “unfinished” time expressions (this month, today, this year, etc.).

The Past Simple and Present Perfect tenses differ in meaning and how they are formed.

We use the Past Simple to talk about situations that occurred in the past and have now concluded. The Past Simple in its Affirmative form has this structure:
Subject + past for of the verb (e.g. I went to the cinema four times last month.).

We use the Present Perfect to talk about completed actions which have occurred in the past which are connected to the present and still have effects on it. The Present Perfect in its Affirmative form has this structure:
Subject + auxiliary verb “to have” + past participle (e.g. I have been to the cinema four times this month.) (“has” for third person singular).

For example:
— “I went to the cinema four times last month.” = We use the Past Simple to express the idea that the action started and concluded in a past period of time that is not going on anymore.
— “I have been to the cinema four times this month.” = We use the Present Perfect to express the idea that the action started in a period of time which hasn’t been finished yet.

Let’s revise this content within the [Form] section. Take a look at the [Example] section that shows its use within a context.