Present Perfect and Past Simple Contrasted


Differences and similarities in the Present Perfect and the Past Simple

1. Use

Present PerfectPast Simple
  • result of an action in the past is important in the present
  • recently completed actions
  • actions beginning in the past and still continuing
  • together with lately, recently, yet
  • action finished in the past
  • series of completed actions in the past
  • together with Past Continuous – The Past Past interrupted an action which was in progress in the past.

2. Signal words

Present PerfectPast Simple
  • already
  • ever
  • for
  • just
  • never
  • recently
  • since
  • so far
  • up to now
  • yet
  • a year ago
  • in 1999
  • last year
  • yesterday

3. Form

Present PerfectPast Simple
have/has + past participle *regular verbs → infinitive + ed
irregular verbs → 2nd column of the table of the irregular verbs

past participle:

  • regular verbs → infinitive + ed
  • irregular verbs → 3rd column of the table of the irregular verbs

4. Examples

4.1. Affirmative sentences

Present PerfectPast Simple
have watched television.I watched television.
You have watched television.You watched television.
He has watched television.He watched television.

4.2. Negative sentences

Present PerfectPast Simple
have not watched television.did not watch television.
You have not watched television.You did not watch television.
He has not watched television.He did not watch television.

4.3. Questions

Present PerfectPast Simple
Have I watched television?Did I watch television?
Have you watched television?Did you watch television?
Has he watched television?Did he play watch television?

5. Spelling (Present Perfect and Past Simple)

  • stopped (Double the consonant after a short vowel.)
  • lived (one -e at the end of the word → Add only -d.)
  • hurried (consonant before -y → Change to -i.)