What’s the difference between using present perfect and past simple tenses? One is used for actions that happened for the first time and were completed in the past, and the other is for actions that started a moment in time in the past and are still happening. I’ll discuss everything you need to know in this guide. Then, you can answer the three printable PDF exercises on the two verb tenses to check your understanding.
Present Perfect vs. Past Simple
Use the present perfect tense:
- When the action began in the past and is continuing to happen now.
- The action occurs regularly.
- The action happened very recently.
The present perfect structure of the verb is formed using auxiliary verbs has or have with the past participle of the main verb. Has written, have sided, and has read are examples of verbs in the present perfect form.
- She has done a great job at work.
- I have worked in this company for three years.
- Mary has consistently proven her excellent writing skills.
Use the simple past tense when:
- The action finished in the past.
- The action began in the past and is not continuing now.
Regular verbs require a -d or -ed ending to form the simple past tense. Others, such as wrote and took, require a change in spelling.
- He checked his phone yesterday.
- I went to the mall today.
- Reena drank water.
Practice the Verb Tenses
Learning the correct usage of verb tenses will give your readers an understanding of when an action occurred.
I hope my guide and English grammar practice exercises on present perfect vs. past simple tenses helped you differentiate between the two. Remember, one is for an unfinished action that started in the past, and the other is for actions that began and ended at an exact time. Don’t forget to try the three worksheets and check your answers using the answer key.