Do I use the present perfect or simple past?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The present perfect tense, in addition to the simple past tense, is used to speak about past events. The present perfect can be confusing for English learners because there are three instances in which we use it, so as you speak you must keep these cases in mind, and that's a lot to think about when you're trying to speak spontaneously.
Ask yourself these three questions to determine whether you need the simple past or the present perfect:

1. Has the time period finished?
(Day, week, month, year, etc.)
Yes = use the simple past.
No = use the present perfect.

2. Is it new information or old?
Old information = simple past
New information = present perfect

3. Is it a specific time?
Time is specific (yesterday, last year, ten years ago) = simple past
Time is not specific or not mentioned = present perfect

When you speak more, you will soon become familiar with what sounds good or what sounds a little strange to your ear. It takes a little conversation and speaking practice but you can do it!

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