There is always confusion whether to use Past Simple and Present Perfect Tense for some scenarios as both appears the same. But if we look closely at the scenario, we would be able to make the difference and choose the appropriate Tense.
Simple Past Tense vs Present Perfect Tense
Uses of both tenses differ in below ways:
1. Time of the finished action is Specific or not :
He has purchased an expensive watch.
Now this is ‘Present Perfect Tense’ as we don’t know the time when he purchased the watch. But if we say:
He purchased an expensive watch yesterday.
Now we know the specific time when the watch was purchased. That’s why ‘Simple Past Tense‘ is used.
2. Action Finished or still continues:
Past Simple is used when we talk about the task that has been completed. We use Present Perfect when we want to express that we don’t know if the task is complete or still continues.
Ram has walked 3 miles.
Here we are using the ‘Present Perfect Tense’. Meaning of this sentence is ‘Though Ram has walked 3 miles, it is not clear that he has stopped. He is still walking.
But if we say:
Ram walked 3 miles.
Here by using ‘Simple Past Tense‘, we clearly indicate that Ram walked in past and that task is already completed.
3. Time Period finished or still continues:
Time period is a span of time example: week, year, today, month. If talk about a task that has been done in the time period that is still going on, we use ‘Present Perfect Tense’. If we talk about a task that was done in a period that is passed, we use ‘Simple Past Tense‘.
I have eaten Pizza this week.
‘This Week’ is current week that has not finished at the time of speaking. So ‘Present Perfect Tense’ is used.
I ate pizza last week.
‘Last week’ is already completed. So, ‘Simple Past Tense‘ is used.
4. Difference in Attitude:
- If we want to emphasis only at the action we use ‘Simple Past Tense‘.
- If we want to emphasis on the result of the action which has an effect at present also we use ‘Present Perfect Tense’.
Lets make it clear with few examples:
He bought a new car.
- Emphasis is on action only.
- Just to convey that he bought the car
He has bought a new car.
- Emphasis is on result of action only.
- Here we want to convey that he has a new car now. So result has an impact on present also.
- Focus is not just on buying the car
Some specific keywords:
Apart from above points we have some words in English which are used with a certain tense.
- last (last Sunday, last week),
- in a specific year(in 1995)
He went there yesterday.
I ate pizza last Sunday.
I visited Paris in 1995.
- up to now,
Have you ever been to Pune?
I have just finished my breakfast.
Scientists have recently discovered a new planet.
I have already seen this place 3 times.
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