Past form or have -en?
Past Simple vs Present Perfect
When do people use the past form and when do we use have -en? Let’s look at some sentences with the past form (past simple) and have -en (present perfect) to better understand the meanings -ed and have -en add and why speakers choose to use them.
Or start with our practice exercises.
Why do we use them?
We add the past form (-ed) to show we aren’t referring to the present-future, such as a time in the past when something happened.
We add have -en when we are talking about the present, and we want to say what happened before now. There is a result in the present.
We use the past form to talk about a specific time in the past.
We use have/has + -en to talk about results we have in the present.
I went to Africa last year .
He didn’t eat lunch yesterday. Lunch time was in the past.
Did you do your homework? (in the recent past)
I‘ve been to Africa.
He hasn’t eaten lunch. (not yet: he may eat it in the future)
Have you done your homework?
We often ask questions with have/has + -en. We don’t know which time in the past to talk about so we talk about the present. We then use the past form to get the specific details.
A: Have you been to Africa? (interested in experience that you have in the present)
B: Yes, I went there last year. (giving details about when I got this experience: in the past)
We use the past form to talk about a period of time that finished in the past.
We use have/has + -en with a period of time up to the present.
She worked here for a year. (finished: she doesn’t work here now)
He didn’t eat for three days. (in the past: he eats again now)
Did you live here for more than a year? (in the past: a time you lived here)
She has worked here for a year. She works here now.
He hasn’t eaten since yesterday.
Have you lived here for more than a year?
1. Make a conversation
2. Complete the sentences
3. How can we say it?
Choose sentences to fit the situations. There may be more than one answer.
How did you go?
The meanings of these structures are similar, but they are different tense patterns with different meanings. And in some situations it makes sense to use one but not the other.
Next, review and compare sentences with the have -en and be -ing to understand how these two forms are opposites in the way they talk about things happening before and after.
or return to top.