Go to Top

Past Simple vs Present Perfect: English Grammar Lesson

This English grammar lesson will help you understand when to use past simple and when to use present perfect.

Watch the video then do the revision exercises.  If you need more help then read the text below before trying the exercises.

Present perfect is a present tense so it only tells us about now.
Past simple is a past tense so it only tells us about the past.
Yesterday I walked on the ice.‘
Yesterday . . . walked . . .
Past simple because the time – yesterday, . . .
. . . and the action – walk, have both finished.
Today I have been in a boat and a plane.’
Present perfect because today started in the past . . .
. . . and it is still today now.

This morning the sea was calm, . . .
(past simple, morning finished, calm finished)
. . . but this afternoon . . .
(present perfect, afternoon started before now, . . .
. . . and afternoon is now)
. . . there have been many waves.’
(present perfect, waves started before now, . . .
. . . and waves are now)

Earlier there was no sun so the ice looked white.’
‘Since lunch time it has been sunny and the ice has looked blue.’

Remember: Present perfect is about the present. Past simple is about the past.

Now do the revision exercises.