Present Perfect and Past Simple

Present Perfect:

We use the present perfect simple to talk about:

  • experiences in our lifetime, or another unfinished time period: Have you ever had a job interview? I’ve never worked in an office. (We can use adverbs like ever, never, three times, etc.)
  • news and recent events, often with a present result: They’ve just offered me the job. (result = I’ve got a job.) The interviews have already finished – you’re too late. (result = you can’t have an interview). She hasn’t called me back yet. (result = I’m still waiting to speak to her).
  • unfinished states (when we want to talk about the duration): I’ve only had this phone for a week. We’ve lived in London since 2010. (We use for to give the duration or since to give the starting point).

Past Simple:

We use the past simple for completed past actions in a completed past time period:

  1. She didn’t get the job.
  2. The interviews finished five minutes ago.
  3. Why did you miss the bus?

We often use past time phrases like last week, a few days ago, when I was a child.

Present Perfect and Past Simple?

We often introduce a topic with the present perfect and then change to the past simple in the next sentence to talk about the details:

  1. I’ve had lots of job interviews. The last one was about three months ago – it was terrible.
  2. I’ve lost my keys. Maybe I left them on the bus this morning.
  3. He hasn’t worked here long. He started a few weeks ago.

Don’t use the present perfect when you describe an action that happened at a particular time. Use a past tense instead: They left yesterday / at four o’clock / ten minutes ago.

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