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Present Perfect vs Past Simple

In British English, the use of Simple Past and Present Perfect is quite strict. As soon as a time expression in the past is given, you have to use Simple Past. If there are no signal words, you must decide if we just talk about an action in the past or if its consequence in the present is important. Note that the following explanations and exercises refer to British English only. In American English, you can normally use Simple Past instead of Present Perfect. We cannot accept this in our exercises, however, as this would lead to confusions amongst those who have to learn the differences.

Certain time in the past or just / already / yet?


Do you want to express that an action happened at a certain time in the past (even if it was just a few seconds ago) or that an action has just / already / not yet happened? Simple Past certain time in the past Example: I phoned Mary 2 minutes ago. Present Perfect Simple

just / already / not yet


Example: I have just phoned Mary.

Certain event in the past or how often so far


Do you want to express when a certain action took place or whether / how often an action has happened till now? Simple Past certain event in the past Example: He went to Canada last summer. Present Perfect Simple whether / how often till now Example: Have you ever been to Canada? / I have been to Canada twice.

Emphasis on action or result


Do you just want to express what happened in the past? Or do you want to emphasise the result (a past action's consequence in the present)? Simple Past Emphasis on action Example: I bought a new bike. (just telling what I did Present Perfect Simple Emphasis on result Example: I have bought a new bike. (With this sentence

in the past.)

I actually want to express that I have a new bike now.)

Signal Words
Simple Past yesterday ... ago in 1990 the other day last ... Present Perfect Simple just already up to now until now / till now ever (not) yet so far lately / recently

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. Mother: I want to prepare dinner. (you / wash) the dishes yet? the time yet

2. Daughter: I (wash) to do it today.

the dishes yesterday, but I (have / not) your homework? home from school.

3. Mother: (you / do / already) 4. Daughter: No, I (come / just) 5. Mother: You (come)

home from school two hours ago! when I (arrive) and I (finish /

6. Daughter: Well, but my friend Lucy (call) just) the phone call.

7. Mother: (you / see / not)

Lucy at school in the morning? time to talk then.

8. Daughter: Yes, but we (have / not)

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. A: I (cycle / just) 50 km.

2. B: I (cycle) 3. A: I (write)

100 km last week. an essay yesterday. two essays this term. my friend.

4. B: I (write / already) 5. A: I (ring / just) 6. B: I (ring)

my friend 10 minutes ago. a Madonna concert on TV.

7. A: Two days ago, I (watch) 8. B: I (see / already) 9. A: I (spend) 10. B: I (be / not)

Madonna live in concert.

my summer holiday in Australia last year. to Australia yet.

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. A: (you / be / ever) to London?

2. B: Yes, I (be) 3. A: When (be)

there three times. the last time you (be) there?

4. B: Last summer. I (spend) to London one weekend. 5. (you / like) it?

two weeks in Brighton with my parents and we (go)

6. Oh yes. We really (have)

a great time in London.

7. Lucky you! I (be / never)

to London.

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. A: (you / try / ever) 2. B: Oh, yes! 3. A: How often (you / eat) 4. B: Two times exactly. 5. A: When (you / eat / first) 6. B: That (be) also (sell) 7. A: (you / like) 8. B: It (be / not) haggis? haggis yet? haggis? a Scottish festival in our town and they haggis.

in 2005. We (have)

traditional Scottish food. So I (buy) it? too bad. And I (know / not) ?

anything about haggis then.

9. A: When (you / find out) 10. B: When I (be)

in Scotland in 2007. I (go)

to a restaurant and (order)

haggis. Afterwards, the waiter (tell) me about haggis: it's the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep, boiled in the animal's stomach. Well, I (eat / never) haggis again since then.

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. A: (you / try / ever) 2. B: Oh, yes! 3. A: How often (you / eat) 4. B: Two times exactly. 5. A: When (you / eat / first) 6. B: That (be) also (sell) 7. A: (you / like) 8. B: It (be / not) haggis? haggis yet? haggis? a Scottish festival in our town and they haggis.

in 2005. We (have)

traditional Scottish food. So I (buy) it? too bad. And I (know / not) ?

anything about haggis then.

9. A: When (you / find out) 10. B: When I (be)

in Scotland in 2007. I (go)

to a restaurant and (order)

haggis. Afterwards, the waiter (tell) me about haggis: it's the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep, boiled in the animal's stomach. Well, I (eat / never) haggis again since then.

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. A: (you / buy) the tickets for our journey yet? to the station yesterday and (buy) there? at the tickets.

2. B: Yes, I (go)

3. A: What time (you / go) 4. B: I (take) 9:45. 5. A: (you / pack)

a friend to the station in the morning. His train (leave) your bags yet?

6. B: Of course. And I (ask / already) What about you? 7. B: I (pack) my bags two days ago.

my neighbour to empty my letter box.

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. Yesterday, my brother (come) (watch) TV until dinner (be) home from school, (switch) ready. my umbrella at home. anything. on the TV and

2. Oh no, it's raining and I (leave)

3. Look! There is so much food left. Nobody (eat) 4. Where (you / be) yesterday? - I (go)

to the shopping centre and (buy)

a new computer game. 5. Why don't you want to play football with us this weekend? - I (break) leg. 6. The road is closed. There (be) 7. I (have) an accident. in Manchester last year. the match. my

an accident when I (be)

8. Come on, let's celebrate! Our team (win)

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. A: (you / play / already) the new computer game? it yesterday and I (have / not) the time yet.

2. B: No, not yet. I only (buy) 3. A: (you / go) 4. B: Yes. I (be) recently? 5. A: I last (go)

to the cinema last night? there with Sue and Louis. (you / be) to the cinema two weeks ago. the new action film yet. to the cinema

6. B: So you (see / not)

7. A: No, unfortunately not. (you / enjoy) 8. B: Oh, I really (love) 9. A: But why (you / take) (hate) action films.

it? it - too much action! me last week that she

it. But Sue (like / not) her with you? She (tell)

10. B: I think she has an eye on Louis. She (try) he (can / concentrate / not) on the film.

to flirt with him all the time. So

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. A: (you / play / already) the new computer game? it yesterday and I (have / not) the time yet.

2. B: No, not yet. I only (buy) 3. A: (you / go) 4. B: Yes. I (be) recently? 5. A: I last (go)

to the cinema last night? there with Sue and Louis. (you / be) to the cinema two weeks ago. the new action film yet. it? it - too much action! me last week that she to the cinema

6. B: So you (see / not)

7. A: No, unfortunately not. (you / enjoy) 8. B: Oh, I really (love) 9. A: But why (you / take) (hate) action films.

it. But Sue (like / not) her with you? She (tell)

10. B: I think she has an eye on Louis. She (try) he (can / concentrate / not) on the film.

to flirt with him all the time. So

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. I (just / finish) my homework. five letters.

2. Mary (already / write) 3. Tom (move) 4. My friend (be) 5. I (not / be)

to this town in 1994. in Canada two years ago. to Canada so far. to London a couple of times. to the cinema. a new film yet.

6. But I (already / travel)

7. Last week, Mary and Paul (go)

8. I can't take any pictures because I (not / buy)

9. (they / spend) 10. (you / ever / see)

their holiday in New Zealand last summer? a whale?

Put the verbs into the correct tense (simple past or present perfect simple). 1. I (just / finish) my homework. five letters.

2. Mary (already / write) 3. Tom (move) 4. My friend (be) 5. I (not / be)

to this town in 1994. in Canada two years ago. to Canada so far. to London a couple of times. to the cinema. a new film yet.

6. But I (already / travel)

7. Last week, Mary and Paul (go)

8. I can't take any pictures because I (not / buy) 9. (they / spend) 10. (you / ever / see)

their holiday in New Zealand last summer? a whale?

The Grand Canyon


The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural features on earth. It is listed as one of the Seven Natural Wonders and became a United States national park in 1919. The park covers an area of nearly 5,000 km. Carved by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon slices deep into the Colorado Plateau and forms one of the most scenic landscapes in the world. Up to 1963, when the Glen Canyon Dam was built, the Colorado river moved 143 million tons of stones each year.

Put the verbs into the correct form (simple past or present perfect). 1. My friends (visit) the Grand Canyon National Park last year. to the Grand Canyon National Park. lots of wonderful pictures. a book about the Grand Canyon.

2. I (be / never) 3. But I (see)

4. And yesterday I (buy) 5. I (read)

30 pages already. It's really interesting.

Edinburg Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. It has a beautiful old city centre and a castle that lies on a hill above the city. In the castle you can see the statues of two Scottish heroes: Robert Bruce and William Wallace (known from the film Braveheart). Several famous people were born in Edinburgh, for example Alexander Graham Bell (who invented the telephone), Tony Blair (Prime Minister) and Arthur Conan Doyle (who wrote the Sherlock Holmes stori

es). By the way, J. K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book in an Edinburgh coffeeshop. Write the verbs in the correct tense (Simple Past or Present Perfect). 1. My friend (be) to Edinburgh three times. English there.

2. Some years ago he (study) 3. Last month he (visit)

some friends in Edinburgh. go to Edinburgh with him. them for ages.

4. Unfortunately, I (can / not)

5. This is a pity. They are my friends, too, and I (see / not)