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Present Perfect

Present Perfect | Past Simple | Native English Teacher .NET

Present Perfect | Simple Past verb tenses – and when to use them.

This week we’re going to talk about something a lot of people have problems with,


the simple past and the present perfect verb tense.


When do we use the simple past,


and when do we use the present perfect?


Watch this conversation I had


with some French guy at the bus station
and see if you can find the mistakes.


How are you?


How’s it going buddy?
Where do you come from my friend?


I’m from Hawaii.


Tres bien, I have go to Hawaii in the last year.


You went to Hawaii last year?


Cool, where did you go?


First I was to Honolulu and then
I was to Maui, which I think
is the best island in the world, no?


How long have you been in Portugal?


Well I am here since 4 month
but now I go for Morocco,
did you went there?


You have been here for four months? Cool.


No I haven’t been there but I would love
to go.


Oh there’s my bus, I have to go.
Nice to meet you.


Did you find the mistakes?

We use the simple past to refer to a definite or known time in the past.


For example, “I went to Hawaii last year.”


With the simple past you must say when something happened.
For example,


“I arrived in Portugal last week.”


It would sound very unnatural
to use the simple past and not say when.


For example,


“I arrived in Portugal…”


We use the present perfect for an indefinite, unknown,

or unimportant time in the past.

With the present perfect, you cannot say when something happened.
For example, you cannot say,

“I have been to California last year.”

We don’t care when it happened,
the focus is on the experience.


For example,


“I have been to California.”  So remember,


when you want to say when something happened


use the simple past.


“I went to Hawaii last year.”


If you only want to say you’ve had an experience


use the present perfect.


“I have been to Hawaii.”



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