Grammar*1- Present perfect and past simple

5. july 2011 at 17:39 | me. |  english

Have you ever had problems with using present perfect tense nad past simple tense? Let's look at this lesson!

>> Example situation
Tom is looking for his key. He can't find it.

He has lost his key. (present perfect)
This means that he doesn't have his key now.
Now Tom has found his key. He has it now.
Has he lost his key? (present perfect)
No, he hasn't. He has found it.
Did he lose his key? (pas sim.)
Yes, he did.

He lost his key. (past sim.)
but now he has found it. (pres. perf.)
>> What is the difference between present perfect and present continuous?
The present perfect is a present tense. It always tells us something about now. 'Tom has lost his key' = he doesn'y have his key now.
The past simple tells us only about the past. If somebody says 'Tom lost his key', we don't know whether he has it now or not. We only know that he lost it at some time in the past.

>> Examples:
Jack grew a bread but now he has shaved it off. (he doesn't have a bread now)
They went out after lunch and they have just come back. (so they are back now)

! Do not use the present perfect it there is no connection with the present (e.g., things that happened a long time ago)
The Chinese invented printing. (not 'have invented')
Beethoven was a great composer. (not have been)

>> Compare:
Shakespeare wrote many plays.
My sister is a writer. She has written many books. (she still writes books, but shakespeare not :-)

>> We use the present perfect to give new information. But if we continue to talk about it, we use the past simple.
- Ow! I've burnt myself!
~ How did you do that?
- I picked up a hot dish.


Put the verbs in brackets in the correct form of present perfect or past simple.
1. Mary ____ to Australia for a while but she's back again now. (go)
2. 'Where is Ken?' 'He _____ out. He'll be back in about an hour.' (go)
3. I did German at school but I _____ most of it. (forget)
4. I _____ a headache earlier but I feel fine now. (have)
5. The police _____ three people but later they let them go. (arrest)
6. Ann _____ me her address but I'm afraid I _____ it. (give, lost)
7. 'Is Jack still here?' 'No, he _____ out.' (just/go)

1. went
2. has gone
3. have forgot
4. had
5. arrested
6. gave ... lost or have lost
7. has just gone

This text wasn't used as a copy for the expansion. This text is taken from English grammar in use (R. Murphy, Cambridge University Press) and is used for my personal benefit. Thank you.

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