Present Perfect of Simple Past?
How to choose between the Present Perfect and Simple Past Tenses
- Always use the Present Perfect when the time is not important, or not specified.
- Always use the Simple Past when details about the time or place are specified or asked for.
|Present Perfect||Simple Past|
|I have lived in Lyon.||I lived in Lyon in 1989.|
|They have eaten Thai food.||They ate Thai food last night.|
|Have you seen ‘Othello’?.||Where did you see ‘Othello’?|
|We have been to Ireland.||When did you go to Ireland?|
There is also a difference of attitude that is often more important than the time factor.
- “What did you do at school today?” is a question about activities, and considers the school day as finished.
- “What have you done at school today?” is a question about results – “show me”, and regards the time of speaking as a continuation of the school day.
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