4 - Past Simple or Present Perfect?
to use the Present Perfect or Past Simple usually
depends on whether a definite or indefinite
time is used. If a definite past time is used,
use the Past Simple, and if there is no time
given use the Present Perfect. Examples below
are split into two groups, single events and
- I went to America
in March. - This sentence has a definite past
time, so the Past Simple is used.
- I've been to America. - Here the time is not
important, what is important is the fact I went.
- I read this book
last week. - Last week I started and finished
- I've read this book. - Here also the time
is not important, what is important is the fact
I've already read the book.
The Present Perfect
can however be used with a period of time that
isn't finished yet. For example:
- I've been to the doctor today. - Today is
not finished, so this is correct.
- I went to the doctor today. - This is also
correct, a statement about a past action.
- I've been to the doctor yesterday. - This
is incorrect, yesterday is a finished period
of time that does not continue into the present
so we cannot use the present perfect here.
The Past Simple and
Present Perfect can similarly be used for multiple
events. For example:
- I went to America three times last year. -
Here the time is important.
- I've been to America three times. - Here the
time is not important, it's the fact I've been
that is important.
AS above you can
also use the present perfect for multiple events
when the time is not finished. For exmple:
- I've been to America three times this year.
- This year isn't finished yet, so this is correct.
- I've been to America three times last year.
- Incorrect, last year is a finished time period,
so you can't use the Present Perfect.