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Grammar 09 - Tenses - Present Perfect vs Simple Past
"They ate Chinese food last night." - This sentence is in the simple past tense.

Grammar 09 - Tenses - Present Perfect vs Simple Past

Verbs and their tenses are time defining parts of English. English has three broad categories of tenses – Past, Present and Future. Within these we have various sub-categories, such as present, present continuous, present perfect, simple past and past perfect. For each of these tenses there are specific words to be used in a specific way to be grammatically correct. In this High English quiz we look at two of the tenses – present perfect and simple past – in a comparative manner, and try to understand the differences.

One could get confused while using these tenses. The present perfect tense has a form that uses either HAVE/HAS together with the past participle of a VERB, or HAVE/HAS together with BEEN and the past participle of a VERB. Here are two examples:

‘They have gone to the market.’
‘The accused has been remanded to custody.’

These two sentences show the usage of present perfect tense, with have/has and the appropriate verbs.

The simple past tense uses verbs in their simple past forms. Simple to use, as its name implies! Here are some examples:

‘He passed the Board Exam with distinction.’
‘Sania Mirza lost her semi-final match.’
‘They beat them up in the dark alley.’

These three sentences show the usage of simple past tense with the verbs 'pass-passed', 'lose-lost' and 'beat-beat'.

The main difference between present perfect and simple past forms is the state of the action – whether it is completed or not. For instance, in the sentence ‘he MADE a lot of new enemies’ an action has been completed, whereas in the sentence ‘he HAS MADE a lot of new enemies’ an action may not have been completed although it does not continue. The first sentence, as we know, is in the simple past tense and the second is in the present perfect tense.

In the quiz that follows we will learn more about the differences between the two tense forms.

1.
Choose the sentence with the correct tense.
I have lived in Hyderabad in 1989.
I have live in Hyderabad.
I living in Hyderabad.
I have lived in Hyderabad.
The sentence is the correct form of present perfect tense as details about the place are given. Option 1 is the wrong usage of present perfect tense as you do not specify a time of action. The correct usage would have been a simple past form 'I lived in Hyderabad in 1989.' Options 3 and 4 are grammatically wrong
2.
Choose the pair of sentences that express the present perfect and the simple past forms.
I have never visited Canada.
I never visit Canada.
I have never visited Canada.
I had never visited Canada.
I have never visited Canada.
I never visited Canada.
I am never visiting Canada.
I never visited Canada.
The pair is in the present perfect and simple past forms. Note that while the first sentence implies that the subject is talking about his travels in general the second sentence implies the subject is talking about a particular country. Option 1 has the second sentence in the simple present form. Option 2 has the second sentence in past perfect form. Option 4 has the first sentence in present continuous form
3.
Choose the pair of sentences that express the present perfect and the simple past forms.
I have not attended school today.
I did not attend school today
I have not attended school today.
I do not attend school today
I have not attended school today.
I had not attended school today
I am not attending school today.
I did not attend school today
The pair is in the present perfect and simple past forms. The sentences are negative sentences as 'not' is used. Note that in negative sentences we use 'did not' and the main verb (attend) only and not its other forms. Option 2 has the second sentence in the simple present form. Option 3 has the second sentence in past perfect form. Option 4 has the first sentence in present continuous form
4.
Choose the sentence with the correct tense.
James has crashed his car again.
James has crashed his car again last year.
James has crash his car again.
James has crashing his car again.
The sentence is the correct form of present perfect tense as details about recent news are given (crashing the car again). Option 2 is wrong. The correct usage would be 'James crashed his car last year.' Options 3 and 4 are grammatically wrong
5.
Choose the pair of sentences that express the present perfect and the simple past forms.
Mary has never met her cousin.
Mary never meets her cousin.
Mary has never met her cousin.
Mary never met her cousin.
Mary has never met her cousin.
Mary had never met her cousin.
Mary is never meeting her cousin.
Mary never met her cousin.
The pair is in the present perfect and simple past forms. Note that while the first sentence implies that Mary has not met a cousin who may be alive the second sentence implies the cousin may not be alive. Option 1 has the second sentence in the simple present form. Option 3 has the second sentence in past perfect form. Option 4 has the first sentence in present continuous form
6.
Choose the sentence with the correct tense.
They have eaten Chinese food last night.
They ate Chinese food last night.
They eated Chinese food last night.
They eat Chinese food last night.
The sentence is the correct form of simple past tense as details about the time that an action occurred are given. Option 1 is the wrong usage of present perfect tense as you do not specify a time of action. The correct sentence would be 'they have eaten Chinese food.' Options 3 and 4 are grammatically wrong
7.
Choose the pair of sentences that express the present perfect and the simple past forms.
Have you shown me your homework?
Do you show me your homework?
Have you shown me your homework?
Had you shown me your homework?
Have you shown me your homework?
Did you show me your homework?
Are you showing me your homework?
Did you show me your homework?
The pair is in the present perfect and simple past forms. The sentences are interrogative sentences. Note that in interrogative sentences we use 'did, do, had , are' or 'have' before the subject. Option 1 has the second sentence in the simple present form. Option 2 has the second sentence in past perfect form. Option 4 has the first sentence in present continuous form
8.
Choose the pair of sentences that express the present perfect and the simple past forms.
Trupti has always got good marks in Science.
Trupti gets good marks in Science.
Trupti has always got good marks in Science.
Trupti had got good marks in Science.
Trupti is getting good marks in Science.
Trupti always got good marks in Science.
Trupti has always got good marks in Science.
Trupti always got good marks in Science.
The pair is in the present perfect and simple past forms. Note that while the first sentence implies that Trupti may be studying now to continue to get good marks the second sentence implies Trupti is no longer studying. Option 1 has the second sentence in the simple present form. Option 2 has the second sentence in past perfect form. Option 3 has the first sentence in present continuous form
9.
Choose the pair of sentences that express the present perfect and the simple past forms.
I have been a teacher for five years.
I was a teacher for five years.
I have been a teacher for five years.
I am a teacher for five years
I have been a teacher for five years.
I had been a teacher for five years
I am going to be a teacher for five years.
I was a teacher for five years
The pair is in the present perfect and simple past forms. Note that while the first sentence implies that the subject 'I' is still a teacher the second sentence implies the subject is no longer a teacher. Option 2 has the second sentence in the simple present form. Option 3 has the second sentence in past perfect form. Option 4 has the first sentence in present continuous form
10.
Choose the pair of sentences that express the present perfect and the simple past forms.
Julian has completed five assignments today.
Julian completes five assignments today.
Julian has completed five assignments today.
Julian had completed five assignments today.
Julian is completing five assignments today.
Julian completed five assignments today.
Julian has completed five assignments today.
Julian completed five assignments today.
The pair is in the present perfect and simple past forms. Note that while the first sentence implies that Julian has some more assignments to complete as today is not over yet, the second sentence implies Julian has completed all the assignments for today. Option 1 has the second sentence in the simple present form. Option 2 has the second sentence in past perfect form. Option 3 has the first sentence in present continuous form
Author:  V T Narendra

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