Present Simple vs. Present Perfect

There are similarities and differences between present simple and present perfect, which might cause confusion. To learn more, click here!

What Are Their Differences?

While the two both talk about the present time, present simple tense tends to talk about routines while past perfect tense tends to talk about events and actions that have just been fulfilled.

Uses and Comparison

1. Talking about Routines

As mentioned earlier, present simple tends to talk about routines. By routines, we mean actions and events that continue happening at a specific time. These routines can be going to the gym, brushing teeth every morning, or even going for a walk every night.

She goes to the gym every day.

Here, the speaker is talking about a routine that the subject tends to follow every day.

She has gone to the gym.

Here, the speaker is saying that the subject has completed the act of going to the gym.

2. Recently Completed Actions

Present perfect, however, talk about actions that have just been finished. Take a look at the following examples:

I have taken the train to the office.

Here, the speaker states that they have taken the train to the office and now they are done with the actions.

I take the train to the office.

Here, the speaker is talking about a routinely action that they tend to do.

3. Stating Facts

The simple present tense can also be used to talk about general information or facts. For example:

Hummingbirds fly backwards as well.

Here, we are stating a scientific fact.

Hummingbirds has flown backwards as well.

This sentence fails to express any facts.

Koalas sleep for up to 22 hours a day.

This sentence expresses a scientific fact.

Koalas has slept for up to 22 hours a day.

Instead of showing this sentence as a fact, it shows it as a normal statement.

4. On-going Actions

Present perfect tense can also be used to talk about actions that started in the past and are still in process in the present. Have a look:

He has waited for almost 2 hours.

The subject has been waiting for 2 hours and the wait is not over yet.

He waits for almost 2 hours.

Here, the sentence fails to show when the action started and if it is still continuing.

They have worked here for 4 years.

The subject has started working 4 years ago and is still working.

They work here for 4 years.

Here, the sentence fails to show when the action started and if it is still on-going.

5. Actions with Unspecified Time

Present perfect tense is used to talk about repeated actions in an unspecified period of time in both past and present.

I have watched the series 3 times.

This sentence show how an action has been done by the subject 3 times already.

I watch the series 3 times.

This sentence sounds more like a plan than an indicator of a repeated action.

She has been to Paris a couple of times.

This sentence shows how many times an action has been done by the subject.

She be to Paris a couple of times.

This sentence sounds more like a plan than an indicator of a repeated action.

Structure

Now we will go through the structure of these two tenses.

1. Present Simple Tense

1.1. Regular Verbs

The present simple form of almost every verb is very easy to create. It is simply the basic form of that verb. The 'almost' is about this exception with third-person singular. In this form, to make affirmative sentences, you need to add 's' to the main verb. Have a look:

I want to move out.

He wants to move out.

We take the train.

She takes the train.

1.2. Irregular Verbs

You have already heard about and used 'to be' and 'to have' verbs. These verbs are called 'irregular verbs' because they do not take on a certain pattern. Take a look:

I have a cat.

My cat is very well-behaved.

2. Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense tends to follow a certain pattern: subject + have/has + past participle. As you can see, we use any subject, then we use the present tense of the auxiliary verb 'have' followed by the past participle of the main verb. Here are some examples:

I have waited for so long.

She has been to Paris.

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