Updated: Aug 11
The Past Simple vs the Present Perfect Tense
The Past Simple Tense
An action that started and finished in the past.
Ex. I moved to Canada in 2000.
Ex. We watched a nice movie last night.
Ex. She graduated a long time ago.
We use a specific time in the past.
Ago – Yesterday - in 1990 - Last night – Last week …etc.
The Present Perfect Tense
An action that started in the past but it hasn’t finished yet. It continues up to the present time.
Ex. I’ve been in Canada for 20 years. (Duration of time) (How long)
I moved to Canada 20 years ago and I still live Canada until now.
Ex. I’ve been in Canada since 2000. (Specific time)
I moved to Canada 20 years ago and I still live in Canda until now.
Look at these examples:
Ex. I arrived at the doctor’s office at 9:00 am.
Ex. I’ve been at the doctor’s office for 4 hours.
Ex. I’ve been at the doctor’s office since 9:00.
Ex. I’ve just arrived at the doctor’s office. (Recent action)
We also use the Present Perfect Tense to talk about recent actions.
Ex. I’ve just had my lunch.
Ex. She hasn’t seen him recently.
Careful with this common mistake!
Ex. I’ve arrived at the doctor’s office an hour ago. XXXX
We can’t combine the “Present Perfect Tense” with “ago”
We can correct this sentence by saying:
I've arrived at the doctor's office.
I arrived at the doctor's office an hour ago.
With the Present Perfect Tense we can use words like:
For – Since – Just – Recent – So far – yet – ever – never.
Have a look at these examples:
Ex. He has learnt a lot since he moved to this country 5 years ago.
Ex. I have learnt English since I came to Canada in 2011.
Ex. I’ve lived in this house since I immigrated to Canada in 2001.
Ex. She has cooked dinner since I got married 20 years ago.
Ex. She has achieved a lot of goals since she moved to her new job 2 years ago.
To practise using The Past Simple and The Present Perfect use this link: