The Difference between Past Simple and Present Perfect

Learn the difference between Past Simple and Present Perfect with useful grammar rules and examples.

Past Simple and Present Perfect

Difference in Form

  • Past Simple Tense:

Subject + regular verb-ed or irregular verb (V2 form, Past Simple)

  • Present Perfect Tense:

Subject + regular verb-ed or irregular verb (V3 form, Past Participle)

Differences in Usage

  • The past simple tense is used to express finished time; In contrast, the present perfect tense describes unfinished time.

Examples:

We lived Japan in from 1995-1998. (a time period that started and ended in the past) (past simple)

I’ve worked as a teacher since 2011. (a time period that started in the past, and continues until now) (present perfect)

  • The past simple tense is used to refer to definite time, while the present perfect tense refer to indefinite time.

Examples:

I saw the Eiffel Tower in 2007. (past simple)

I have seen the Eiffel Tower. (present perfect)

  • The past simple tense indicates series of finished actions or repeated actions; the present perfect tense expresses experience or result.

Examples:

First, he read book and then he watched movie. (past simple)

He went to the cinema every weekend last year. (past simple)

Have you ever seen this movie? (present perfect)

She has already watched this movie 3 times. (present perfect)

Time phrases in Past Simple Tense

Yesterday

Ago

Last

In 1994, etc.

In the 20th century,etc.

In July, etc.

On Monday, etc.

Time Phrases in Present Perfect Tense

Already

Just

Yet

Ever

Never

For

Since

Past Simple and Present Perfect | Picture

The Difference between Past Simple and Present Perfect

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