Grammar Problems 1



In this blog post we will take a closer look at how to use two tenses in one conversation.

Present perfect vs. Simple past

First we need to look at how and when we use both tenses:

Present perfect

One of the ways we use the present perfect tense is to express experiences in the past when the point in time is not relevant or it is not important.

Simple past

We use the the simple past to express a finished action in the past or to talk about an experience giving the time frame of when it happened.

It is very common to hear and use these tenses within the same conversation.

For example:

A: Have you been to London?

B: Yes, I have.

A: When did you go?

B: I went two years ago, in 2016.

Let’s look at the conversation in detail.

Present perfect:

A: Have you been to London?

Here, we are asking if at any time this person has been to London or not. For the moment, the time period is not relevant.

B: Yes, I have.

Here, we know this person has been to London but we still don’t know when.

Simple past:

A: When did you go?

Here we want to know the exact time period so we use the simple past.

B: I went to years ago, in 2016.

As you can see, here, we use the simple past because it is giving us the exact time of the action. This action (visiting London) is now finished.

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