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How to use the simple past and the past perfect in English? Hello, folks! I would like to have clear on my mind the differences bewteen the simple past and the past perfect. I know that I must use the simple past when I specify the time it happened (I talked to Jane last week, for example). But what about the other situations? Sometimes I see the simple past and sometimes the past perfect. How can I know which one I have to use in my phrase?I am sorry! Actually, when I wrote ''past perfect'' I meant ''present perfect''.
Jan 19, 2011 5:02 PM
Answers · 3
Fofa's and Larry's answers are very good and complete. I would just add one thing: the present perfect is also used when something may not be finished. For example: "I visited London two times" vs. "I have visited London two times." In the first--past simple--sentence, we would expect the speaker to include the dates (e.g., "I visited London in 1997 and in 2005." For the second--present perfect--sentence, the speaker has only said that he's visited London twice in his life... he may visit again or many more times in the future, or maybe not. But from the first visit until today, he has been there two times. Because the speaker is using the present perfect form, the listener is not waiting to hear the dates like s/he would after hearing the incomplete simple past version of the sentence.
January 19, 2011
Well, my understanding is this: The simple past is final. It is history. It has no particular link to the present moment. It is often linked to a time in the past. Examples: I cleaned my car yesterday. I went out to dinner at a restaurant last week. The present perfect is for 'an action in the past with a result now'. To put it another way: 'events that are relevant to the present but which happened in the past' A 'bridge' between the past and the present. Examples: My car is dirty. --> I am cleaning my car. --> I have (just) cleaned my car. (my car is clean NOW.) I have (just) finished my dinner. (It is finished NOW.) It conveys the feeling of a recent event.
January 19, 2011
the past simple is for actions that was completely done in the past , and you can indicate the time. i mean you can use last, yesterday, in the past, in 2001, ago or any indication of the past. i did my homework an hour ago. present perfect is used to indicate a link between the present and the past. the time of the action is before now but not specified, and we are often more interested in the result than the action itself. i have done my homework. she has swept the floor. also you can use already, yet, just, never, ever, for and since with this time.
January 19, 2011
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