Present Perfect vs Past Simple

Hello everyone!

Today we are going to talk about a grammar point that is usually quite a pickle for students up to Upper-Intermediate level: Present Perfect vs Past Simple.

Let’s start thinking about TIME, not about tenses, but about time. There are only 3 times: PAST – PRESENT – FUTURE

In this way, we hardly ever doubt when we need to use Past Simple. We simply use it to talk about an action that started in the past and finished in the past.

E.g: “What did you do last weekend?”

We use the Past Simple because the weekend started and finished in the past time.

So, when do we use the Present Perfect tense?

The present perfect is a tense that connects past time and present time.

E.g: When we ask ‘Have you been to Paris?’ what we mean is ‘Have you been to Paris at any time from the moment you were born until now?’

In this way, we can learn a lot about the time we are talking about if the person we are talking to uses the correct tense. We can use Past Simple or Present Perfect in the same sentence, depending on when we are saying it.

Let’s take a look at these sentences as an example:

a)      ‘Did you see Mary this morning?’


As we can see, part of today is in the past time, so when I say ‘Did you see Mary this morning?’, I am doing it because it’s either the afternoon, evening or night of the same day, so the morning already belongs to the past time. You can see it better in the following timeline:

This is today:

Let’s imagine that it’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon and you will see how part of the day belongs to the past, other part to the future and how the present is just 17’00h:

b)        ‘Have you seen Mary this morning?’

If I use the Present Perfect tense in this sentence is because the morning is not over, so it started in the past but continues in the present.

We could use this sentence if, for example, it was 11.30 in the morning:

To review all past tenses, we recommend you check the following podcast: ‘The mystery story’, it’s great practice and great fun!!!

I hope this post has helped you to clarify the use of these tenses and remember: everything’s about time! 😉

Have a great week! 😀

T                             O                            D                            A                            Y

Now, this is today:

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Each step counts

Hi folks!

How’s the weekend going? I hope you have enjoyed our quiz on idioms in the previous post, our students surely have! And as promised, here are the answers: 1B, 2A, 3A, 4C, 5A, 6B, 7C, 8A, 9A, 10B, 11A, 12C.

Today we have a post about the younger students, our kiddies. Carol Banet (Head of Junior Department) has written the following article to shed some lights on the YLE exams, why they are becoming so popular and her experience when students prepare and take these exams. Enjoy!

How many times as a teacher or as parents have we asked ourselves ‘How can I motivate young children to study English?’ ‘What can be done to maintain their interest?’ ‘How can they be motivated?’ ‘What about making the time spent at school more enjoyable and entertaining?’

Cambridge Young Learner exams can be one of the ways to answer these questions.

What are Cambridge Young Learners exams?

Cambridge Young Learner exams are tests specially designed for children at primary and lower- secondary school. These tests are an excellent way to motivate our students to learn English, build their confidence using a foreign language and  show parents the progress the students make.

Why should students take Young Learners exams?

These are not the classical tests students normally do at their schools. These are activity- based tests which focus on putting into practice English for everyday situations, covering familiar and interesting topics for the students specially designed to develop the skills students need to communicate in English as a second language in a natural way.

Tests where the most important thing is not what students cannot do but what they can do!

What level are the exams?

There are three levels: STARTERS, MOVERS & FLYERS. All of them designed so students improve their English following a well planned, interesting syllabus. These exams are aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).

The exams are divided into three parts, covering all language skills appropriate to each level: Reading & Writing, Listening & Speaking.

What do students get after doing the exam?

All students will receive an award. They will be awarded a Cambridge Certificate which will show a number of shields, according to the student´s performance in the different parts of the exam.

Personally speaking, I really think that this is an excellent way to motivate students to see how they can make the study of a subject something more interesting, enjoyable and practical. Soon students at this early age will not be afraid of taking exams and they will see them as something natural and normal in their education. Parents would be surprised if they knew how many times students who have done one of the tests are asking when they will be taking the next.

Written by Carol Banet