Hi guys, hello boys and girls and welcome
back to Robby’s English Harmony video blog. Currently I’m having my Monday morning tea. Cheers! You see how big, how huge this mug is? This is the kind of mug I like, you know what
I mean? This is what I call proper tea drinking. You can make yourself almost a liter of tea
and drink it, right? Anyhow, in today’s video I’m going to look
at the following topic: simple past versus present simple. And this is, as a matter of fact, a thing
that confuses the hell out of so many foreign English speakers, right? And ironically enough I haven’t actually recorded
a video about this particular topic in the past which is kind of weird because I’ve been
publishing my videos for years on end. At this stage it’s actually 8 years since
I’m running the English Harmony blog or actually 9 years. Yeah, going 9 years this year to be honest
with you. I started it in 2007 if I’m not mistaken so
next year going 10 years, you know what I mean? It is going to be a big anniversary. Anyhow, it’s surprising that I haven’t actually
touched upon this particular topic comparing the simple past I did it for instance against
present simple I’ve done it and when you use one or the other, you know what I mean? And the reason I’m saying that it confuses
the hell out of so many foreigners is because I’ve had first-hand experience dealing with
people who are not really sure on how to use these two tenses, right? As a matter of fact, one of my Fluency Star
students served as an inspiration for this video because that person was kind of not
really sure on how it’s done and then I explained it to her and she was very happy about my
explanation because it’s pretty straight forward if you boil it down to the very basics, right? So first things first, I’ve done it. For instance I’ve been to London which is
not really true in my case because believe it or not, I’ve never been to London, right? And it’s very weird because I live in Ireland
which is very close to England, so it’s just one small hop with a plane, like a half an
hour flight or something and you’re in London, you know what I mean? And with these days prices where you can go
to London just paying literally 20 or 30 Euros, you know what I mean? It’s no excuse not to go there but on the
downside obviously when you go there you have to book a hotel and so on and so forth. And then you have to go sightseeing and all
those costs add up and eventually you end up spending a fortune, you know what I mean? So I guess I’ve just kept putting it off and
off and off. And anyhow, I’m going to do it one fine day
I would imagine but anyhow, going back to the subject; I’ve been to London, right? And then you can also say I went to London,
okay? So what is the difference? First things first, you don’t have to be kind
of analyzing your English language language? What did I just say? Language. See, I just made a mistake but it just goes
to show that making mistakes is a crucial part of the whole fluency improvement thing,
right? Anyhow, you see, today I’m all over the place. I just keep varying up the subject and touching
upon random things. So I’ve been to London, right? It’s a general statement. You’re not specifying a specific point in
time. And mark this guys, point in time. This is the crucial bit, right? Whenever there is a time mentioned, a specific
time, a year, a day, month, week, whatever, that’s when you use simple past. I went to London last year. I went to London 10 years ago. I went to London last Monday. That’s simple past, you know? You don’t use the present tense, the simple
present, I’ve been to London when it’s followed up with a specific time. And when I say specific time, please don’t
be thinking that I’m talking about a very specific like time of the day; even a year
is quite specific, right? So you use perfect simple only when you don’t
refer to any time at all, like I mean there’s no time reference mentioned basically. No years, nothing, you know. I’ve been to London. And you can obviously say I’ve been to London
5 times but this time reference, you know, 5 times is not the same as referring to a
particular year or a month or a day, you know? It’s just saying how many times you’ve been
to London. So I think the best way excuse me, I’ve got
to take a sip of tea. So I think that the best way of kind of wrapping
your head around this concept is by kind of getting used to the concept of using the perfect
present in the beginning of a story when you don’t use any time references. So basically you would say you know what? I’ve been to London a good few times or as
a matter of fact I’ve never been to London, you know what I mean? And then after that point you can start using
the simple past, right? And here is how it happens. You know what? I’ve been to London 10 times at this stage,
you know. I’ve been there 10 times. Las time I went there was last summer and
before that I went there every, every year for 10 years in a row, you know? So you use the perfect simple no, present. Sorry I’m getting all mixed up in these grammar
terms but it’s just because I’m not using these grammar terms. I’m not all about these grammar terms. If I were a traditional English teacher that
would be all about the grammar terms, then I imagine I wouldn’t be getting mixed up in
these terms. But I said it wrong; I said perfect simple
or something. No, it’s perfect present that I wanted to
say, right? So you use perfect present I’ve been to London
in the beginning of the story when you’re making a general statement. You’re basically stating the fact that you’ve
actually been to London, you know? And then you start using the simple past. I went there with my friends, so that’s kind
of a storytelling, you know what I mean? When one event follows another. We went there and then we actually had booked
a hotel beforehand. And now I use the past present tense. And you may want to click on this link where
I’m explaining how that would be used, basically when you’re referring to a point in time which
had happened before the general storyline, right? And then we went sightseeing and then we went
to different restaurants and all the different museums and we visited the Big Ben and what’s
the palace called where the Queen lives? Westminster Palace or whatever? I’m not really familiar with these terms but
anyway, you get the drift, right? So you make the general statement in the beginning
and then follow it up with simple past where you tell the story, where you went, when you
went there, who you went with, what you did there and so on and so forth, right? So to recap the whole thing, present perfect
is used to make general statements about what you did or what you didn’t do in the past. But it’s very general. It’s lacking any references whatsoever to
years, days, months, weeks, whatever, you don’t mention about it, right? But then when you start talking about specific
times, that’s when you introduce the simple past, right? So I hope that this video is going to clarify
this whole issue for you and just to let you know there was a comment recently. Oh yeah. Actually 9 hours ago at this stage posted
where one of my blog readers asks me where to use gone and went, right? And actually this one was the reason I actually
recorded the video right now because I read the comment and then I realized hold on a
second, I haven’t actually addressed this particular issue in a video. And then I remembered my Fluency Star student
who had the same issue and I was like okay, let’s make a video about it. So I hope that this video is going to be useful
for you my friends. And obviously if you have any further questions
please feel free to publish them in the comment section below. Thank you and bye-bye.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Hi Robby!  I hope you don't mind me saying:   Present Perfect tense is utilized whenever you speak about a past (usually recent) event without making any reference to time/date of occurrence, whereas Past Simple tense is used when you speak about a past event and provide a specific date of occurrence. Please notice! – In your presentation you have compared the verb "to be" (I have been) with the verb "go" (I went). It would have been more appropriate to say: "I have been to London." (an event in the past without any specific reference to time of occurrence) and  in order to explain the usage of Past Simple tense: "I was in London in 1989." ( a past event that took place at a very specific time which is mentioned). Actually, verbs "to be" (describing a state of existence), "to have" (describing a state of possession) and verbs describing a state of mind such as: know, understand, like, etc.) constitute more of an exception when it comes to Present Perfect tense (very tricky indeed!). Thus, in order to avoid possible further confusion, one should start explaining  the usage of the Present Perfect tense based upon verbs describing certain acts (such as: buy, paint, cook). "I have bought a car" (Present Perfect) means that I undisputedly am (at the time of speaking) the owner of a car after the act of purchasing it took place (prior to speaking, without mentioning the time of occurrence) and the results of this act = buying/purchasing exist now (at the time of speaking). On the other hand , "I bought a car in 2007." (Past Simple) means that at some specific time in the past the act of purchasing a car took place, however it does not presuppose that I do have it now. It is a mere statement that such an act took place. (I may have already sold it!) This goes to say that Present Perfect tense is used to make a general statement about a past occurrence (without giving any specific date) the result of which is current = attention is drawn to the result only!   By the same token, Past Simple tense is utilized to make a specific statement about a particular/specific past occurrence at a specified time. (The specificity of it lies in tying the occurrence of a certain act to its time of occurrence.) Having explained the difference between Present Perfect and Past Simple by using a similar verb (describing a simple act like:   cook, paint, build) one can attempt to show how it works with reference to verbs: "to be", "to have" and "to know", "to understand", "to hate" , etc.  (all verbs referring to a state of mind), before finally addressing the difficulties associated with trying to use the most difficult/confusing verbs, namely modals. ("I have been able to do it for two years."  "I have had to do it since 2009."  !!!)

  2. Hey, the image behind you is from my city. This is the Ibirapuera neighborhood, in São Paulo City, Brazil!
    And I've already been in London. Two times!
    I went there in 2014 and again in 2015.

  3. Hi Robby! You are right!  However, for the sake of better understanding on the part of the learner, it is more prudent to start explaining the difference between Present Perfect and Past Simple by using verbs referring to acts (prior to "to be", "to have", verbs referring to senses, plus finally modals – all very tricky). My short (actually lengthy)  explanation was aimed at potential learners who are viewers and was meant to undermine your claims.

  4. To Triple H:  You are absolutely right!  ("It would sound awkward" – I agree) However, in a classroom when facing students (who don't know diddley) let's say in Cambodia, for the sake of simplicity and better understanding, it's always better to stick to one verb (in both sentences, in this case "to be"). Otherwise one is likely to create more unnecessary confusion.   My intention was not to explain the intricacies of how those verbs were used in (everyday) situational  English.  Thanks you for your comment! It will certainly serve its purpose when read by some of Rob's students. (The same goes for my comments. They are meant for the knowledge seekers who might be struggling with this particular problem.)

  5. Sorry Robby – It was NOT meant to undermine your claims!!!!  What a stupid mistake have I just made!!  ( I have just noticed that instead of "wasn't meant" I wrote "was meant".  Your fan, and subscriber, Felix!!

  6. " Whenever there is a time mention ,a specific time, a year ,a day, week ,whatever,that's when you use simple past."????
    This year I have been to London .This month I have been to London.I haven't been to London since June 2003. ???

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