# Thread: Present perfect vs Simple past

1. ## Present perfect vs Simple past

Hello everyone!

My mother spoke/has spoken to my teacher recently.
Eddy gave/has given Melanie a present for her birthday.
Alan wrote/has written two postcards to his family,but they haven't arrived yet.
Has he written/Did he write a letter to his parents?

I guess the correct sentences are:

My mother has spoken to my teacher recently.
Eddy gave Melanie a present for her birthday.
Alan wrote two postcards to his family,but they haven't arrived yet.
Has he written a letter to his parents?

But I'm not sure!!!

Please can you tell me if they are correct and 1. if yes,why are the others wrong and 2. if no,why?

Thanks a lot

2. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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## Re: Present perfect vs Simple past

My mother spoke/has spoken to my teacher recently.
Both are OK- some grammars say we use the present perfect with 'recently', but we do use the past, though less so in the negative. If this is an exercise, I imagine they are looking for the present perfect as an answer.

Eddy gave/has given Melanie a present for her birthday.
It depends when the birthday is/was. If it was last week, then the past would be correct. If it's today, then the present perfect could be used.
Alan wrote/has written two postcards to his family,but they haven't arrived yet.
The past works better for me as the writing is finished- the problem is the post.
Has he written/Did he write a letter to his parents?
Again, both could be used depending on the situation. If he's sitting at the computer now, then the present perfect would make more sense to me.

3. ## Re: Present perfect vs Simple past

Originally Posted by tdol
Eddy gave/has given Melanie a present for her birthday.
It depends when the birthday is/was.
The present perfect would be appropriate if the birthday is today. The reason is that the present perfect is used to connect the past with the present (by which I mean the present time, not the birthday present!). But if the birthday was yesterday, it's better to use the past tense.

If the action takes place in a period of time which is not complete, the present perfect can be used. For example:

"He has suffered three heart attacks."
The period of time implied here is "his life". This sentence can only be used if "he" is still alive, and further implies that it is possible he may suffer more heart attacks.

"He suffered four heart attacks before his death last night."
Here, his life is over.

Applying this logic to the birthday:

"He has given her a present for her birthday."
The birthday is today -- the period of time is not yet complete.

"He gave her a present for her birthday, which was yesterday."
The birthday is over. The period of time is finished, over, complete.

4. ## Re: Present perfect vs Simple past

Thanks a lot tdol and rewboss.
So my doubts were not without foundation!
It was exactly how I had figured it out but as you well guessed,tdol,those sentences were part of an exercise and I couldn't really ask the book whether the birthday was that same day or a thing of the past,and it did seem as if in this book the present perfect was preferred when using 'recently'.
It was most of all a relief to find that my dilemma was not unfounded.
After all,I'm Maltese and my degree is in Maths and Chemistry!

Thanks again.I knew I could count on your help!

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