Present Perfect and Past Simple Compared

The main difference between the Present Perfect and Past Simple is that we use the Past Simple for past events or actions which have no connection to the present, but we use the Present Perfect for actions which started in the past and are still happening now or for finished actions which have a connection to the present. We can’t use the Present Perfect with a finished time word like yesterday.

Exam in Mind Level B1/B2

The Present Perfect Tense is used:

  • to talk about things that started in the past, continued up to the present and may continue into the future: I have lived in Ohio my whole life. 
  • to talk about things that happened at an unspecified time in the past: She’s read a book about heli-skiing.
  • to talk about things that have happened in a period that is not finished. It is used with since, ever since to indicate a starting point of the action; for, over, in to indicate a certain period of time:  She has had three cups of coffee this morning.
  • with adverbs ever, never, already, yet, lately, recently, just, before, so far, etc. to indicate an indefinite period of time: I have only recently sent her an invitation.

The Past Simple Tense is used:

  • to talk about things that happened and were completed in the past: I moved there ten years ago.
  • to talk about things that happened at a specific time in the past: She read a book about heli-skiing last week.
  • to talk about things that happened in a period that is finished: She typed three e-mails yesterday.
  • with adverbs of definite time yesterday, ago, last week, the other day, in those days, eventually, finally, etc.: Last night my neighbours celebrated their wedding anniversary.

Have practice in using the Present Perfect and Past Simple.

Task 1. Choose the correct tense form using the Present Perfect and Past Simple. Use the Present Perfect Continuous in some sentences.

1. He (be)_______________ ill before Christmas, but he (be)_______________ fine ever since.

2. We (be)_______________ here for hours. Are you sure we (come)_______________ to the right place?

3. Since I (leave)_______________ school, I (travel)_______________ a lot. So far I (visit)_______________ eight countries.

4. The company (buy)_______________ some land, but then it (sell)_______________ it.

5. For the last two weeks there (be)_______________ several crashes at this crossroads.

6. Several bombs (go)_______________ off in the city centre. It (happen)_______________ an hour ago.

7. I’m sorry about not coming last week. I (have)_______________ a cold and so I (stay)____________ at home.

8. Harry (not look)_______________ well since he (go)_______________ on a diet.

9. It says in the paper that they (discover)_______________ oil in Wales. They (look for)_______________ it for ages.

10. Last week I (lose)_______________ my scarf, and now I just (lose)_______________ my gloves.

11. You (see)_______________ my calculator? I’m sure I (leave)_______________ it here earlier.

12. I can’t find my diary. What you (do)_______________ with it? – I (put)_______________ it in your drawer last night.

13. Who (give)__________ Shakespeare his first job?

14. My jacket (catch)_______________ on a nail and (tear)_______________.

15. Yuri Gagarin (make)_______________ his historic flight in 1961. Many astronauts (fly)_______________ into space ever since.

16. Columbus (not discover)_____________ America: the Indians already (know)_______________ where it was.

17. That’s perhaps the tenth cup of coffee he (drink)_______________.

18. Mary is upset because she (tear)_______________ her new dress.

19. Rupert (leave)_______________ a message for you. He (ring)________________ last night.

20. I (look)_______________ at her face and just (know)_______________ that she (lie)_______________.

21. Henry (leave)_______________ home rather early and we (not/hear)_______________ from him since then

22. What’s the matter? You (hurt)_______________ your leg? How you (do)_______________ it?

23. She (bite)_______________ into a croissant and (take)_______________ a sip of coffee.

24. Last month I (stay)_______________ in a hotel in Paris which (cost)_______________ me $150 a night.

25. The police officer (take)_______________ her arm and (lead)_______________ her gently away.

26. The branch (spring)_______________ back and (hit)_______________ him in the face.

27. When I (leave)__________ school I (cut)_______________ my hair and (wear)_______________ it short ever since.

28. Everything (go)______________ well and we (have)______________ any problems with the new pupil so far.

29. The kids (watch)_______________ as the coin (sink)_______________ to the bottom of the pool.

30. Brad (get)_______________ up and (shake)_______________ his legs to get all the grass off.

31. Children (enjoy)_______________ games since the first humans (walk)_______________ on the Earth thousands of years ago.

32. Thousands of gallons of oil (flow)______________ into the river when an oil pipeline (burst)______________.

33. Hampshire police (find)_______________ the dangerous snake which (go)_______________ missing earlier in the week.

34. This tooth (kill)_______________ me lately! So I (make)_______________ an appointment with the dentist for Tuesday.

35. He (leave)_______________ school three years ago, then he (work)_______________ in France for a few months before coming back to England.

36. I (not trust)_______________ my cleaning lady since she (break)_______________ all those plates and (say) _______________ it (be)_______________ the cat.

37. It (be)_______________ ages since I (write)_______________ to you but I (be)_______________ very busy since we (decide)_______________ to move to the country.

38. You won’t believe this, but I (get)_______________ some tickets for the concert. – Oh, well done. How you (get) _______________ them?

39. I (ski)_______________ when I (be)_______________ at university, but I (break)_______________ a leg five years ago and since then I (not/do)_______________ any skiing.

40. There (be)_______________ quite a few changes since Jane (come)_______________ to work in the shop. For the last few years, the shop (sell)_______________ fruit and vegetables from all over the world. 

Task 2. Use the Present Perfect and Past Simple of the verbs in brackets.

  1. 1. George (arrive)______________ late to work again this morning. He (be)_______________ late at least five times this month. The supervisor (speak)_______________ to him about it yesterday but he obviously (not/pay)_______________ any attention.
  2. John Keats, who (die)_______________ when he (be) only 26 years old, (write)_______________ a lot of beautiful poems. I (read)___________ most of his poetry, but I never (manage)_______________ to get to the end of Endymion as it’s too long for me!
  3. Clare (be)_______________ in New York for almost a year now. I (go)_______________ to visit her last month and I have to say I (be)_________________ very impressed. I (visit)_______________ most of the major cities in Europe but I never (see)_______________ any place as exciting as the Big Apple.
  4. I (see)______________ five films this month, but I (not/like)_______________ any of them very much. Actually, I think the films they (make)_______________ ten years ago (be)______________ much better than anything I (see)_______________ for ages.
  5. Sue (be)________________ involved in sports for more than 25 years. Her first interest (be)_______________ gymnastics, which she (do)_______________ since she (be)_______________ ten. She (be)_______________ a keen cyclist since 1980 when she (make)_______________ her first bicycle tour of Europe. Last year she (decide)_______________ to take some time off so she can write a book about the role of women in sports. Since Sue (be)_______________ part of the sporting world for so long, her book should be fascinating.

 I hope now it’s not a problem for you to use the Present Perfect and Past Simple.