Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Present Perfect vs. Past perfect

If you haven't checked out our lessons on the present perfect or the present perfect progressive, as well as the past perfect or the past perfect progressive, go there first to BRUSH UP on (review) these tenses. For this lesson, we're going to CONTRAST (show the differences between) the present and past perfect tenses to clarify them even further. I hope that after this lesson, you'll have an even clearer idea of how to use these tenses.

First, the main difference is that the present perfect tenses somehow connects the present with the past, while the past perfect connects the past with another time further back in the past.

Take a look at the following diagram.

Present perfect vs past perfect
Here's another diagram to illustrate the difference.

present perfect vs past perfect English verb tenses
"I have already eaten" means the action is done and you probably don't need to eat now. (Remember, if you mention specific time, you have to use the past tense: I ate an hour ago. I ate at 1p.m.) On the other hand, "I had already eaten" means the action was done before a time in the past. A reference to the past is usually used with the past perfect. In fact, without any kind of reference to the past tense, there's usually no reason to use the past perfect

In the diagram below, the verb "took" in situation 2 is the reference to the past.

present perfect progressive vs past perfect progressive English verb tenses
"We've been studying for hours" connects the past with the present, whereas "we'd been studying for 5 hours" connects the past with another point further in the past.

Alright, folks! I hope that helped. Bookmark this page so you can refer to it now and then. If you found this useful, spread the word! Follow the small guide site on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter @joeyu2nd for more quick, small English lessons. Have fun using English and catch you next time!

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