If you had English classes at school, you probably heard of the notorious Present Perfect Tense- the one which connects present and past and is not so difficult to grasp when used alone in a sentence. But when the Past Simple Tense joins the already confusing jumble of English verb tenses, all that you thought you knew for sure flies out of the window. The best way to learn the differences between these two tenses is by comparing their use in real-life examples. The following chart can be helpful when choosing between ‘I worked for IBM’ and ‘I have worked for IBM’.
One of the most important things to remember is the following:
do not translate sentences literally from your own language. There is a reason why English is called a foreign language, it does not have the same grammatical rules for use of certain verb tenses nor the same notion of the world as we do. The most common mistake my students make is when they talk about their life experience and use sentences such as: ‘I live in Zagreb for five years’ or ‘He knows his boss all his life’, which are examples of literal translation from Croatian. The English prefer to connect past and present when talking about life experiences (not use the present tense only like we do- ‘Živim u Zagrebu već pet godina’), therefore ‘I have lived’ and ‘He has known’ would be the correct options.
Autor: Ljiljana Breulj Štimac