Past Simple - Present Perfect

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DodoSVK

Senior Member
Slovakia - slovakian language
HI ALL..the issue about these two tenses (past simple and present perfect) is well known. I am still dissapointed when I try to verify my knowledge on the some test on internet...I still have correct about 55% only. ...But I think that in a lot of cases the answer is not so clear and it is debatable...That is why I would like to know If the native speakers or people with good english skills are able to have more than 90% at this test.

Unfortunately, I can not write link of that webpage here becouse of the rules of this forum. But If anybody is interested in doing that test, let me know and I will send you message or email with the link to that test. It is only 15 sentences so dont hesitate to try it.

It would help me a lot to know If it is possible to get good result in these kind of tests or I should not be worried about it.

try it please
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Rather than ask us to take the test (which we won't) I suggest that you post here some of the questions that have caused you most difficulty.
    If you do that, we can discuss the question and, hopefully, explain the answer. It would not help you if we were to report a series of scores in the test.
     

    DodoSVK

    Senior Member
    Slovakia - slovakian language
    Hi. some of you tried the test. everyone got pretty good result, so now I can see that it is possible to reach it. Before I thought that it was not, because I thought that answer mainly depended on what we want to say, so there can't be only one correct answer.

    Here are my questions about tasks from the test.

    1.Sentence with correct anser:
    Stinson is a fantastic writer. He has written ten very creative short stories in the last year. One day, he'll be as famous as Hemingway.

    my questions:
    why is the present perfect here?
    - there is time signal word - last year - so it indicates to use SIMPLE PAST, doesn't it?
    - it is finished past action - SIMPLE PAST

    2. Sentence with correct answer:
    Things have changed a great deal at Coltech, Inc. When we first started working here three years ago, the company only had six employees. Since then, we have expanded to include more than 2000 full-time workers.
    my questions:
    -Why there is present perfect?
    - It is because the autor wanted to say that the changes are still going on?

    -Would it be good like this?>

    Things changed a great deal at Coltech, Inc. When we first started working here three years ago, the company only had six employees. From then to now, we expanded to include more than 2000 full-time workers.
    -Does this sentence above mean that they are not going to have new workers in the near future?

    3. Sentence with correct answer:
    How sad! George dreamed of going to California before he died, but he didn't make it. He never saw the ocean.

    my questions:
    could I write it like this?>
    -How sad! George had dreamt of going to California before he died, but he didn't make it. He had never seen the ocean.

    4. Sentence with correct answer:
    In the last hundred years, traveling has become much easier and very comfortable. In the 19th century, it took two or three months to cross North America by covered wagon. The trip was very rough and often dangerous. Things have changed a great deal in the last hundred and fifty years. Now you can fly from New York to Los Angeles in a matter of hours.

    my questions:
    -traveling has become much easier -Is the Present Perfect here because the traveling is still easier and easier?
    If we expected that the travelling is not easier in the future than today, could we use Past simple? traveling became much easier ?


    5. Sentence with correct answer:
    14. This mountain has never been climbed by anyone. Several mountaineers have tried to reach the top, but nobody has ever secceeded. The climb is extremely difficult and many people have died trying to reach the summit.

    my questions:
    Is the Present Perfect here because we expect that in the future some mountaineers again will try to reach the top, and again some of them will die?
    If we didn't expect that, would we use Simple Past?

    Thank you for answers and advice.













     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Stinson is a fantastic writer. He has written ten very creative short stories in the last year. One day, he'll be as famous as Hemingway.

    my questions:
    why is the present perfect here?
    - there is time signal word - last year - so it indicates to use SIMPLE PAST, doesn't it?
    - it is finished past action - SIMPLE PAST
    The basic idea of the present perfect is to indicate things that happened in the past but continue to the present or otherwise affect the present.
    - When the expression of time tells the point of time in the past when something happened, use the simple past.
    Last Sunday I went to church.
    - When the expression of time indicates a period up to the present, use the present: I have been to Spain four times during the past year. He has written 10 stories in the last year.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Things have changed a great deal at Coltech, Inc.
    - It is because the autor wanted to say that the changes are still going on?
    No. This sentence is not really about the past: it is about the effects of the past on the present. The speaker is saying 'things are different now because of changes in the past'. Hence the present perfect.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It might be helpful if I take se16teddy's wisdom and apply it to (1).
    He has written ten very creative short stories in the last year.
    The time phrase "in the last year" is a period up to the present.
    The present perfect is correct.


    If I change the sentence a little:
    He has written ten very creative short stories in 2003.
    Now the time phrase is a period that completed in the past.
    The present perfect is not correct - the sentence should be:
    He wrote ten very creative short stories in 2003.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Since then, we have expanded to include more than 2000 full-time workers.
    my questions:
    -Why there is present perfect?
    - It is because the autor wanted to say that the changes are still going on?
    Not exactly, it is because we have here an expression of time, since then, which indicates a period up to and including the present.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    -Would it be good like this?>
    Things changed a great deal at Coltech, Inc.
    You can say this, but it means something different. With the simple past, there is no implication that the effects of the change continue to the present. Maybe the changes have been reversed; maybe subsequent changes have made those changes unrecognizable.
     

    DodoSVK

    Senior Member
    Slovakia - slovakian language
    HI se16teddy.

    I am familiar with this rule about Present perfect and that is why I dont understand why I should use Present Perfect in sentence "He has written ten very creative short stories in the last year."

    You say: "When the expression of time indicates a period up to the present, use the present" => and here is problem, because that sentence indicates the period from start of last year to end of last year not to the present as I perceive. Do you know what I mean?....

    If the sentence was:
    "He has written ten very creative short stories in the this year." I would understand....
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    How sad! George had dreamt of going to California before he died, but he didn't make it. He had never seen the ocean.
    Maybe you can say this, but note that English does not use the pluperfect very much except to avoid an ambiguity, or in accordance with the 'indirect speech' rules. I think George dreamt of going to California before he died would be more typical, because I can't see what ambiguity you are trying to avoid.
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    No. Here you have a period of time from then till now extending to the present, so present perfect.
    Yes, what you must understand is that the phrase "in the last year" doesn't mean the same as "last year".
    Last year could indeed be the year 2006.
    But in the last year describes a 365-day period from April 2006 until, and including, today.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Speaking today, 14 April 2007, when I say "in the last year" I am referring to the period from 15 April 2006 until now.
    I am NOT referring to 1 January 2006 - 31 December 2006. I would refer to that period as "last year".
    I can see how these could be confused.
    Last year I wrote five books. I wrote them in 2006.
    In the last year I have written five books. I wrote them during the twelve months ending today.

    Does that help?
     

    DodoSVK

    Senior Member
    Slovakia - slovakian language
    :)) oh, I see....

    Now it is clear why there is Present perfect in that sentence with "the last year"

    thanks
     

    LV4-26

    Senior Member
    could I write it like this?>
    -How sad! George had dreamt of going to California before he died, but he didn't make it. He had never seen the ocean.


    From a purely practical point of view, no. Because the choice was between the past and the present perfect (no past perfect expected).

    Otherwise, I don't think I've got any problem with the first past perfect, although I'd probably feel the need to add "always" (He had always dreamt* of....). But I wouldn't use the past perfect for the second verb.

    EDIT : * by the way, for those who'd like to take the test : do type "dreamed", not "dreamt". Otherwise, you'll be marked down.
     
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