GRAMMAR HOTLINE / The Present Perfect versus The Past Simple

Compare When …? (past simple)


How long …? ( + present perfect)

When did you buy your house?

We bought it two years ago.

How long have you lived in your house?

We have lived in our house for two years/ since April.

When did Mr. and Mrs. French first meet?

They first met long time ago / when they were in high school


Past Simple                         Present Perfect

Did you read Vincent’s book?                                                                              Have you read Vincent’s book?

Yes, I did.                                                                                                                                   Yes, I have.

No, I did not.                                                                                                                             No, I have not.


Key signal words for the past

I know WHEN                                                                                                    Key reason for the present perfect

Yesterday                                                                                                                                         Experience

Last Week



                                               Present Perfect or Past Simple?


David Hunt was (be) born in the Valley of The Dolls, USA, in 1966.  Since then he ___________ (travel) all over the world.  He first ____________ (come) to Europe in 1982, when he ______________

(be) ____ years-old, and he ________________________ (be) to many different countries in Europe.

In 1987 he ____________ (move) back to the Valley of The Dolls, where he now lives alone.  He ___________ (meet) people from all over the world but he prefers to stay in the Valley.

He _____________ (work) for the Fox Hunt Agency for a number of years and he ___________ (investigate) several crime cases. He ___________ (solve) his first murder case in 1995, The Jim Morrison murder and he ___________ (solve) the theft of  Paul McCartney’s bass guitar two years later. He ______ (be) married but then divorced a year later. He  ___________ (fall) in love again.

More Practice

  1. A: Did you like the movie “Star Wars?”
    B: I don’t know. I (see, never)  that movie.
  2. 2. Sam (arrive) in San Diego a week ago.
  3. 3. My best friend and I (know)  each other for over fifteen years. We still get together once a week.
  4. 4. Vincent is a fantastic writer. He (write)  ten very creative short stories in the last year. One day, he’ll be as famous as Hemingway.
  5. 5. I (have, not)  this much fun since I (be) a kid.
  6. Listen David! I don’t care if you (miss)  the bus this morning. You (be)  late to work too many times. You are fired!
  7. I (know) Vincent for a long time.


    Chi è Vincent C. Torrieri?

    Background professionale:

    Ampia conoscenza e esperienza per quanto riguarda ricercare e riportare notizie di cronaca, svolgimento di indagini giornalistiche, scrivere articoli, redazione, intervistare, curare soggetti e sceneggiature per programmi televisivi, per emittenti radiofoniche e per compagnie cinematografiche.

    Lasciato il mondo del giornalismo per insegnare l’inglese alle società in Italia – Specialità – 

    Business Communications – Language Coach.

    Titoli Di Studi:

    YORK UNIVERSITY, Toronto, Ontario (1984-1987)

    Laureato a livello Bachelor in scienze politiche e in filosofia

    RYERSON POLYTECHNICAL INSTITUTE, Toronto, Ontario (1988-1990)

    Laureato a livello Bachelor nelle arti applicate con specializzazione in giornalismo

    UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE LOCAL EXAMINATION SYNDICATE (UCLES)- Certificato English Language Teaching to Adults – Verona, Italy (1998) Trinity Language Workshops

    Esperienza d’insegnamento

    Language Instructor – Sabaudia’s Missile Air Defence base. (2004)

    Trained High Ranking Military Personnel, low Level English to medium Level English, Military Language Code Procedures.

    Business Language Consultant Business Crash Courses and Seminars -Responsible for co-ordinating and teaching Individual and Group Courses. Companies include:

    Dalmine Tenaris, Disney, DHL, Exxon, Fater, Fameccanica, Gefco, Geodis and other freight forwarding companies including Cargo City Milan. (Johnson & Johnson) Quintiles and Merloni, Indesit, SGS, UPS and many more.

    Exam results for students

    Cambridge BEC Exams (Business English Certificates) 95%

    Cambridge Exams – 90% –

                                                                              TrinityExams – 90%


Written by

Vincent Towerpast

English Language Consultant for Business English courses and Journalist - Foreign Correspòndent