New English word? Translate any word using double click.
Present Perfect vs Past Simple
When do we use the Past Simple (hice) and the Present Perfect (he hecho)? Let’s have a look at an example, and then we can start talking about the difference:
Did you see Sarah this morning? (¿Viste a Sara esta mañana?)
Have you seen Sarah this morning? (¿Has visto a Sara esta mañana?)
Can you see the difference?
In this case, as it says when (this morning) it is quite clear:
In the first case the morning is past and finished (it’s 6:30pm) and in the second sentence the morning is not finished (11:15am)
The Present Perfect no es un Pasado Acabado, es un…..
PASADO QUE SIGUE:
In Spanish there are many situations where you do not use the Present Perfect (Hemos acabado..) even though it is a ‘Pasado que Sigue’. Think of how you would translate these sentences:
Hace 3 semanas que no fumo.
No comemos carne desde el jueves pasado.
(El) Lleva media hora esperando.
En los tres casos, dado que no esta acabado ni pasado (pero tampoco es presente, ya que se habla del periodo que incluye el pasado) tenemos que usar HAVE (or HAS en 3ª persona) con el participio (taken, gone, been, had, played, etc.) O sea:
Yo no he fumado desde hace 3 semanas
No hemos comido carne desde el jueves pasado
El ha estado esperando durante media hora
Think of the answers again, but remember…
FOR = durante / desde hace
SINCE = desde
….and that the sense of ‘Llevo (8 años) viviendo…. / Llevan (2 horas) discutiendo is PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS, in other words:
I’ve been cooking
You´ve been listening
s/He´s been sleeping
We’ve been working, etc. etc.
OK! Do you know the answers yet? Here we are:
I haven’t smoked for three weeks.
We haven’t eaten meat since last Thursday.
He’s (He has) been waiting for half an hour.
Good! Just one more thing to remember- Si hay algo que nunca has hecho, es un pasado que sigue y por lo tanto, Presente Perfecto:
I´ve never seen The Rolling Stones live.
Mark has never been abroad.
Now the second part:
YOU DON’T SAY/KNOW WHEN IN THE PAST:
Look at this conversation, and when they use Present Perfect and Past Simple:
JOHN: Hi Mary! We haven’t seen you in the office for some time. Have you been on holiday?
MARY: Hi John. Yes, I have. I’ve been to Spain for a couple of weeks.
JOHN: Spain? Very nice- Where to?
MARY: To the coast of Huelva- you know, the bit between Gibraltar and Portugal?
JOHN: I know! I’ve been there a couple of times! I went last year to Zahara de los Atunes- Have you been there?
MARY: Not this time. We stayed there five or six years ago. On this holiday we went to Punta Umbria.
JOHN. Ah? I haven´t been there- Was it nice?………(etc.)
Have you noticed? The conversation changes from completely Present Perfect at the beginning, to some sentences of Past Simple near the end. Why does it change? Let’s look…
‘I’ve been there a couple of times! I went last year to Zahara de los Atunes.’
The difference is that in the second sentence Mark says when (last year) and this is why it changes to Past Simple. Remember:
PAST SIMPLE- Es Pasado/Acabado y SE DICE O SE SABE CUANDO
PRESENT PERFECT- O: No es Pasado/Acabado O: NO SE DICE NI SE SABE CUANDO
This means that all of these sentences are incorrect:
Did you ever go to Edinburgh?
What’s the most beautiful place you ever saw?
When I was little I have gone to see The Lion King in London.
Before the wedding the bride has arrived in helicopter.
Correct these sentences, but remember that the word ‘ever’ means ‘alguna vez’ and cannot be used with the Past Simple. Before I tell you the answers, one more thing:
JUST (ACABO DE):
If you want to say ‘Acabo de comer’, in English you say ‘He justo comido’, using JUST.
‘I have just eaten’
Now, Let’s do the answers above, and then I will give you three more questions on JUST. The answers are….
Have you ever gone to Edinburgh?
What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?
When I was little I went to see The Lion King in London.
Before the wedding the bride arrived in helicopter.
OK? No problem? Good, let’s carry on- now, how do you say:
Juan acaba de levantarse
¿Que acabas de decir?
Acaban de salir
And, before I give you the answers, the last and final thing to remember:
GONE vs. BEEN:
There should be no confusion. GONE is ‘ido’ and BEEN is ‘sido/estado’, and this is true.
Lucy has been ill lately.
But BEEN can also mean ‘ido’ if you use ‘to’:
I have been to the mountaintop!
This is the only case where BE and TO se usan juntos.
So, what is the difference if both sentences mean ‘Mi hermano ha ido a Canada’?
My brother has gone to Canada (When will he come back?)
My brother has been to Canada (When did he come back?)
The difference is that GONE = Ido (sigue allí) and BEEN = Ido (ha vuelto)
Have you understood? Tell me the answers to the questions above and we can finish the class (but remember your homework!).
Juan acaba de levantarse = Juan has just got up
¿Que acabas de decir? = What have you just said?
Acaban de salir = They have just left
That’s it! If you have comment or question, write it in the comments box below. If you want to practise, why don’t you try this song : U2’s ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’
Don’t forget your homework- and please, click an advert for me!
Si dejas un email y nombre, tendrás un ejercicio escrito en tu correo, y un enlace para las respuestas. Recibirás además un email cada mes, con la posibilidad de tener una clase conmigo gratis, junto con un libro electronico de bienvenida. Pincha aquí para más información.