Student or Learner
i have recently joined this forum, it is real help full for new students.
my question is about the past and present perfect tense. i always confuse which tense i use in my speaking. can you please discribe the difference in detail or what is rule to use these tesnse.
The present perfect is usually used when there is a clear connection between the past and the present.
Consider these examples:
I have made a cake. Would you like a piece?
(I made the cake in the past, and it exists now in the present.)
I made a cake yesterday.
(I am talking about what happened yesterday, so I'm not interested in the present.)
I made a cake, but the dog ate it.
(The cake no longer exists.)
I made a cake, did some shopping, wrote a few letters and watched TV.
(This is a story that happened in the past. I am not interested in the present.)
Johnny Depp has made many movies.
(Johnny Depp's career is not yet over; he is still an actor in the present.)
Charlie Chaplin made many movies.
(Charlie Chaplin is dead, so his career is completely finished.)
That's the general rule, but of course it's hard to remember when you're actually speaking. In many cases either tense would be correct; Americans use the past simple more often than British speakers do. If you're not sure, it's probably safer to choose the past simple: you might sound a bit American, but you will be understood.