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Thread: Past tenses????


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    #1

    Past tenses????

    Hi

    I never did much grammar at school and now I find I'm in a position where I need to teach simple grammar to my 1-to-1 student.

    We've been looking at the difference between the simple past and past participles but I'm not exactly clear about the difference uses. My ear and experience tells me which to use but that doesn't help my learner.

    So what is the difference between 'I drove my car to the garage' and 'I have driven my car to the garage'?

    Many thanks


  1. Harry Smith's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
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    #2

    Re: Past tenses????

    Quote Originally Posted by funny bunny View Post
    Hi

    I never did much grammar at school and now I find I'm in a position where I need to teach simple grammar to my 1-to-1 student.

    We've been looking at the difference between the simple past and past participles but I'm not exactly clear about the difference uses. My ear and experience tells me which to use but that doesn't help my learner.

    So what is the difference between 'I drove my car to the garage' and 'I have driven my car to the garage'?

    Many thanks

    They are the same in meaning, but have different uses. Let's take " I drove my car to the garage" Here you want to say that you did it some time ago. And when you say "I have driven my car to the garage" You want to say that your car is already in the garage. When we use past simple we want to say that we did something on the past. When we use present perfect we want to show the result of the past action. I hope I explained clearly.


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    #3

    Re: Past tenses????

    Thanks.
    Much appreciated.

  2. rewboss's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: Past tenses????

    The present perfect is, strictly speaking, a present tense, not a past tense. What it does is to connect a past action with a present situation and put the emphasis on the present situation:

    I made a cake. -> Present situation is not mentioned.
    I have made a cake. -> Present situation: A cake exists.

    It can also be used to describe events that took place in a time frame that continues to the present. Consider the difference:

    Johnny Depp has made many films.
    Charlie Chaplin made many films.

    The time frame in each case is the actor's career. Johnny Depp is still working as an actor; his career is still current. We expect him to make many more films in the future. However, Charlie Chaplin is dead -- his career is at an end and so has no connection to the present any more.

    If there is anything in the sentence which focuses attention on the past action rather than the present situation, we have to use the simple past. This is most often the case when a definite time in the past is mentioned:

    I wrote the letter five minutes ago.

    "Five minutes ago" is a time in the past, and the presence of that phrase makes the present situation irrelevant -- the sentence is concerned with the actual past event.

    Consider the huge difference in meaning between these two sentences:

    Hillary went to the library.
    Hillary has gone to the library.

    The first sentence merely indicates a past action. It is quite likely that Hillary is now back home, but that information is either unknown or unimportant.

    The second sentence indicates that Hillary is not home now. You've just missed her, but if you hurry along to the library, you might see her there.


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    #5

    Re: Past tenses????

    For NaE, the simple past and the present perfect can be used to describe the identical time situation. My guess is that both Rewboss and Harry are describing more the BrE sense.

    Both,

    Hillary went to the library.

    and

    Hillary has gone to the library.

    are used in NaE to say that Hillary, possibly, is at the library. In most conversation, simple past is much more likely to be used than present perfect.

    A: [A phones Hillary's house] Is Hil there?

    B: No, she went to the library.

    NaE speakers use the present perfect when they want to add importance, when they feel that the situation warrants it.


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