Simple Past & Present Perfect

I have done and I did

  • We use the present perfect for an action in the past with a result now.

o   I’ve lost my book. (= I can’t find my book now)

o   Jenifer is gone to bed. (She’s in bed now.)

Usually you can also use the simple past in these situations. So you can say:

o   Where’s my book? I’ve lost it. … Or…                   I lost it.

o   We’ve bought a new car.           …or…                    We bought a new car.

  • We use only the simple past (not the present perfect) with a finished time (yesterday, last week, etc.)

o   I lost my book yesterday. (not I’ve lost)

o   We bought a new car last month. (not we’ve bought)

Just, already and yet

  • Just ( = a short time ago)

We use just with the present perfect or the simple past.

o   Diane and Paul have just arrived.           Or                          Diane and Paul just arrived.

o   I’ve just have dinner.                                   Or                          I just had dinner.

  • Already ( = before you expected / before I expected)

We use already with the present perfect or the simple past.

o   They’ve already arrived.                             Or                          They already arrived.

o   We’ve already met.                                      Or                          We already met.

  • Yet ( = until now)

We use yet with the present perfect or simple past. We use yet in negative sentences
(I haven’t … yet) and questions (Have you… yet?  Yet is usually at the end.

o   Negative sentences
They haven’t arrived yet.                           Or                          They didn’t arrive yet.

I haven’t bought a new computer yet. Or                          I didn’t buy a new computer yet.

o   Yet in questions

Have you bought a new computer yet?                               Or           Did you buy a new computer yet?

Have you found another house yet?     Or                          Did you find another house yet?

I’ve lost my key. I lost my key last week.

Sometimes you can use the present perfect (I have lost/ he has gone, etc.) or the simple past (I lost/ I went, etc.).

o   Is John here?    No, he’s gone to work.                Or                          He went to work.

But with a finished time (yesterday / last week, etc.), we use only the simple past (not the present perfect).

o   We arrived yesterday / last week / at 3 o’clock /  in 1984 / six months ago.

Do not use the present perfect with a finished time.

o   I saw her yesterday.

o   Where were you last Saturday?

o   What did you do last week.

Use the simple past to ask When….?                    Or                          What time …?

o   When did you arrive?


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