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Sunday, 24 February 2013


Grammar (1) - Present Perfect vs. Simple Past
 

The Simple Past is used when two specific conditions are fulfilled:
a)      The action (or event) is finished
b)      You know exactly when the action (or event) took place

 
She phoned me one hour ago.
When did you see her?  / I saw her yesterday.
I met them last night.
How long ago did you write your essay?  I wrote it two days ago.
When did you have your car repaired?  I had it repaired last week.
When did you last go tot he cinema?   I last went to the cinema last month.
When did she meet her boyfriend?  She met him when she was a student.
They got married in 1995.
I didn’t see my friends last weekend when I went to the football match.
He didn’t see his parents for four years. 
How long were you a student?   I was a student for four years, between 1983 and 1987.




 










The Present Perfect is used…
a)      …when at least one of the two conditions used for the Simple Past is missing

 I have met them recently / I’ve met them recently.
 She has been to Paris / She’s been to Paris.
I have seen that film before. / I’ve seen that film before.

 The actions are finished BUT you don‘t know when or it‘s not important to know when. In other words, you talk about something (action / event…) that happened before but you don’t say or don’t know exactly when it happened. 


 

 
 






NOTE: Adverbs of time (but indefinite) are used with the Present Perfect.
In the affirmative:  just and already
In the negative: never and yet
In the interrogative: ever and yet

 I’ve just phoned her.
This means it happened recently, not long ago but it’s not important to know exactly when.
So, was it 5 minutes ago? Half an hour ago? One hour ago?  We don’t know or don’t care.

 They’ve already been to London.
This means they’ve been there at least once, maybe twice but it’s of no importance to know exactly when. This emphasises the fact that their trip to London or their presence there has happened before.

 He has never seen the sea.
It means…  it has never happened. He was maybe born 60 years ago, so for the last 60 years, he has never had the possibility of seeing the sea either because he has never been interested in it or because he has never left his village…

 COMPARE WITH:

He never saw the sea.
Also with the Simple Past but this means he never had the possibility of seeing it for example when he still could drive or leave his village but not anymore because he could be too old to do it now or simply because he is dead.

 I haven’t read this book yet.  
This means I may have bought this book one month ago, but I haven’t had the time so far to even start reading it. 
Note the use of YET combined with the negative form of the verb (have not  ‘ve not  haven’t  / / has not – ‘s not – hasn’t ) 

 Have you ever been to the USA?
This means the person asking you that wants to know if you’ve been there at any time in your life.
If your answer is yes, they may ask you then when you did it! 

 Have you ever been to the USA?
Yes, I have.
Oh yes? And when did you go there?
In 2008. I was a student then. It was during my Erasmus programme…

 Have you seen the latest Bond film yet?
Not yet, no. And what about you?
Yes, I have. I went to see it when it came out…

 

b)      …when both conditions used for the Simple Past are missing (the action is not finished and the time of the action is not completed)

 When you want to describe something (action / event…) that started in the past (either quite recently or long ago) and that is connected with the present.

He’s lived in this small town all his life. (→part of the past and up to the present)
 
 

NOTE: He lived in this small town all his life.
It means he is now dead and he is now living somewhere else.

 Also with FOR and SINCE
She has been in London for two weeks.
(She arrived in London two weeks ago and she’s still there now)

I have known them for 10 years.
(I met her 10 years ago and I still know her today.)

She’s owned her car for a very long time.
(She bought it a long time ago and still has it now.)

She has been working since 4 o‘clock.
(She started working at 4 o’clock and hasn’t stopped since.)

They’ve been unlucky since they decided to settle down there.
(They started being unlucky at the time they settled down there and now their situation hasn’t changed.)

 
→ The actions  (or events, states…) aren‘t finished and the time of the actions (or events, states…) is not completed  (→part of the past and up to the present)












NOTE:
She was in London for two weeks.
(She’s elsewhere now or she’s back home)

I knew her for 10 years.
(But I lost touch with her because she moved away or she didn’t want to see me again or simply because she died.)

She owned her car for a very long time.
(and now she owns a new one.)


 


 




SINCE or FOR?
SINCE of FOR are both used with perfect tenses.

FOR is used with reference to a period of time and SINCE with reference to the start of a period of time.
 
FOR
SINCE
two seconds / minutes / hours.
five weeks / months / years.
a long time.
ages.
2 o’clock / 2 am / 2 pm.
2003.
January / February…
the war.
Christmas / Easter…
her birthday.
I was born.
she stopped working.
the last time.
 

HOW LONG…?    HOW LONG AGO…?       WHEN…?       SINCE WHEN…?




HOW LONG…?

HOW LONG…?

HOW LONG AGO…?

WHEN…?

SINCE WHEN…?

How long have you been working as a teacher?   
I have been working as a teacher for 25 years.

How long have you known your best friend?
I have known him / her for the last 15 years.

 

How long did you work as a teacher? 
I worked as a teacher for 40 years.
 

 
How long did you live in Brussels? 
I lived there for about 10 years and then I moved to Paris.

How long ago did you get your degree?
I got it 20 years ago.
 

 

How long ago did you get married? 
I got married 32 years ago.

When did you meet your girlfriend?   
I met her when I was a student.

 
When did you buy your laptop?
I bought it five years ago and it’s still working.

Since when have you been out of work? 
I’ve been out of work since the company I worked for went bankrupt / since 2005.

 
Since when have you been teaching?   
I’ve been teaching since I graduated from university / since 1988.

PRESENT PERFECT

SIMPLE PAST

SIMPLE PAST

SIMPLE PAST

PRESENT PERFECT
 
Exercises
1 Underline the correct verb form.
It’s 10.30. I haven’t seen / didn’t see the boss this morning.
It’s 3 pm. I haven’t seen / didn’t see the boss this morning.
She’s phoned / phoned me yesterday.
They’ve been / went to China twice recently.
I’ve been / went to Canada last year.
They haven’t finished / didn’t finish writing their essay yet.
She has been / was my best friend for 10 years. I can rely on her whenever I’m in trouble.
 
 
 2 The following sentences contain errors except for one.  Which one? Correct the others.
1. When have you left school?         
2. The weather has been lovely for the last week but has been awful today.
3. I have gone to the zoo today but I’m sad – poor creatures having to live in cages!
4. Where you went on holiday last year?
5. They have got married two years ago.
6. She is born in 1985.
7. They live in London since they got married.
8. I have this computer since 2009. I’m thinking about buying a new one.
9. I’m here for two years but I’ve only made a few friends.
 
 
 3 Find a sentence that is similar in meaning to the one given.
1.       How long ago did you learn to use a computer?
How long have you…                                                ?
2.       He first met his girlfriend in 1998.
He…                                                  since 1998.
3.       He became a surgeon more than 2 years ago.
He …                                                  for over 2 years.
4.       They died in a car accident in 2001.
They …                                                   since 2001.
5.       She started working in 2005 when she got her degree.
She …                                        for a few years now.
She...                                         since...
6.       I started learning Chinese three years ago.
I …                                         Chinese for three years.
7.       She worked for 20 years and got the sack 2 years ago – she is now on the dole.
She …                                 on the dole since she lost her job two years ago.
8.       A: How long did she work there?
B: I think 35 or 40 years but then she decided to quit and stay at home.
 
She …                                       at home since she decided  to resign from work.
9.       I bought this computer in 2010.
I...  (have)
10.    I found my first miniature London bus the first time I went to England.
I...  (collect)
 
 
 4 Translate the following sentences
1.      Je travaille depuis 25 ans.
2.      Je travaille depuis le 01 juin 1985.
3.      J’ai travaillé pendant 40 ans.
4.      J’ai travaillé pendant les vacances d’été.
5.      Ils habitent à Londres Bruxelles depuis qu’ils se sont mariés.
6.      Ils habitent à Londres depuis 25 ans.
7.      Ils ont habité à Londres pendant 25 ans.
8.      Ils sont morts.
9.      Ils sont morts en 2012.
10.  Ils sont morts depuis longtemps /  depuis 5 ans / depuis le mois dernier.
11.  Ils sont morts il y a deux mois.
12.  Ils sont morts quand on les opérait.
13.  Ils sont en train de mourir.
14.  Quand sont-ils morts ?
15.  Depuis quand / Depuis combien de temps sont-ils morts ?
16.  Il y a combien de temps qu’ils sont morts ?
17.  Ils sont partis récemment.
18.  Ils viennent de partir.
19.  Ils sont partis il y a deux heures.
20.  Ils sont partis ce matin (now = 11am)
21.  Ils sont partis ce matin (now = 1 pm)
22.  Ils sont allés au travail à 8 heures.
23.  Ils sont allés au travail aujourd’hui.
24.  Ils sont allés au travail hier.
25.  Ils sont allés au travail. Je ne sais pas à quelle heure ils rentrent.
26.  Ils sont allés au travail. Maintenant, ils sont à la maison et se reposent.
27.  Pendant combien de temps sont-ils restés à l’étranger ?
28.  Depuis quand sont-ils à l’étranger ?
29.  Depuis combien de temps sont-ils à l’étranger ?
30.  Il y a combien de temps qu’ils sont partis à l’étranger ?
31.  Quand étaient-ils à l’étranger ?
32.  Elle a la même voiture depuis 20 ans / depuis 1993.
33.  Elle a acheté sa voiture il y a 20 ans.
 
When you are finished, check your answers.
1
It’s 10.30. I haven’t seen / didn’t see the boss this morning.
It’s 3 pm. I haven’t seen / didn’t see the boss this morning.
She’s phoned / phoned me yesterday.
Theyve been / went to China twice recently.
I’ve been / went to Canada last year.
They haven’t finished / didn’t finish writing their essay yet.
She has been / was my best friend for 10 years. I can rely on her whenever I’m in trouble.
 
1. When have you left school? When did you leave school?        
2. The weather has been lovely for the last week but has been awful today.  OK
3. I have gone to the zoo today but I’m sad to have seen those poor creatures having to live in cages! I have been... (because I’m back home now, quite logically)
4. Where you went on holiday last year? Where did you go on holiday last year?
5. They have got married two years ago. They got married two years ago.
6. She is born in 1985. She was born in 1985.
7. They live in London since they got married. They’ve lived in London since they got married.
8. I have this computer since 2009. I’m thinking about buying a new one. I’ve had this computer...
9. I’m here for two years but I’ve only made a few friends. I’ve been here for two years...
 3        
1.        How long ago did you learn to use a computer?
How long have you used / known how to use / been able to use /...   a computer?
2.         He first met his girlfriend in 1998.
He has been with his girlfriend / has known his girlfriend since 1998.
3.       He became a surgeon more than 2 years ago.
He has been a surgeon for over 2 years.
4.       They died in a car accident in 2001.
They have been dead since 2001.
5.       She started working in 2005 when she got her degree.
She has worked / has been working for a few years now.
 
She has worked / has been working since she got her degree. / ...since 2005.
6.       I started learning Chinese three years ago.
I have learned / have been learning Chinese for three years.
7.       She worked for 20 years and got sacked 2 years ago – she is now on the dole.
She has been on the dole since she lost her job two years ago.
8.       A: How long did she work there?
B: I think 35 or 40 years but then she decided to quit and stay at home.
 
She has been / has stayed at home since she decided to resign from work.
9.       I bought this computer in 2010.
I have had this computer since 2010.
10.    I found my first miniature London bus the first time I went to England 22 years ago.
I have collected miniature London buses since the first time I went to London 22 years ago.
 
I have collected miniature London buses since I found the first bus 22 years ago.
 
I have collected miniature London buses for 22 years.
 
1.      Je travaille depuis 25 ans. I’ve worked / I’ve been working for 25 years.
2.      Je travaille depuis le 01 juin 1985. I’ve worked / I’ve been working since 1st June 1985.
3.      J’ai travaillé pendant 40 ans. I worked for 40 years.
4.      J’ai travaillé pendant les vacances d’été. I worked during the summer holiday.
5.      Ils habitent à Londres Bruxelles depuis qu’ils se sont mariés. They have lived / have been living in Brussels since they got married.
6.      Ils habitent à Londres depuis 25 ans. They have lived / have been living in London for 25 years.
7.      Ils ont habité à Londres pendant 25 ans. They lived in London for 25 years.
8.      Ils sont morts. They’re dead.
9.      Ils sont morts en 2012. They died in 2012.
10.  Ils sont morts depuis longtemps /  depuis 5 ans / depuis le mois dernier. They’ve been dead for a long time / for 5 years / since last month.
11.  Ils sont morts il y a deux mois. They died two months ago.
12.  Ils sont morts quand on les opérait. They died when they were being operated on.
13.  Ils sont en train de mourir. They’re dying.
14.  Quand sont-ils morts ? When did they die?
15.  Depuis quand / Depuis combien de temps sont-ils morts ? Since when / How long have they been dead?
16.  Il y a combien de temps qu’ils sont morts ? How long ago did they die?
17.  Ils sont partis récemment. They’ve left recently.
18.  Ils viennent de partir. They’ve just left.
19.  Ils sont partis il y a deux heures. They left two hours ago.
20.  Ils sont partis ce matin (now = 11am)   They’ve left this morning.
21.  Ils sont partis ce matin (now = 1 pm)    They left this morning.
22.  Ils sont allés au travail à 8 heures. They went to work at 8.
23.  Ils sont allés au travail aujourd’hui. They’ve been / gone to work today.
24.  Ils sont allés au travail hier. They went to work yesterday.
25.  Ils sont allés au travail. (Je ne sais pas à quelle heure ils rentrent). They’ve gone to work. (I don’t know what time they’re back.)
26.  Ils sont allés au travail. (Maintenant, ils sont à la maison et se reposent). They’ve been to work. Now, they’re back home and they’re having a rest.
27.  Pendant combien de temps sont-ils restés à l’étranger ?   How long were they abroad?
28.  Depuis quand sont-ils à l’étranger ?   Since when have they been abroad?
29.  Depuis combien de temps sont-ils à l’étranger ? How long have they been abroad?
30.  Il y a combien de temps qu’ils sont partis à l’étranger ? How long ago did they go abroad?
31.  Quand étaient-ils à l’étranger ? When were they abroad?
32.  Elle a la même voiture depuis 20 ans / depuis 1993. She’s had the same car for 20 years / since 1993.
33.  Elle a acheté sa voiture il y a 20 ans. She bought her car 20 years ago.
 
 



 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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