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Present Perfect vs Past Perfect

Present Perfect vs Past Perfect Tense

Another common source of errors, especially as it’s so easy to hit the “s” rather than the “d” (or vice versa) on a keyboard without noticing!

Luckily, it’s usually not that hard to figure out which tense to use.

Present perfect: have/has + past participle

  • Use it for recent actions or events that are still relevant at the time of writing, or if the window of time in which the action happened isn’t over yet.
  • E.g. “I have emptied the dishwasher.”
  • E.g. “I have been very productive this morning: I’ve cleaned the kitchen, done some office work and taken the dog for a walk.” → The morning is not yet over. By the way, you could write “I have” four times in this sentence, but it’s not really necessary.
  • (If you are referring to your morning in the afternoon, use the past simple: “I emptied the dishwasher (this morning).”)

Past perfect: had + past participle

  • Use it to describe actions that happen before something else or actions that are interrupted by other events.
  • E.g. “I had been living in London for several years before I met my husband.”
  • E.g. “I had (already) emptied the dishwasher when my mum asked me to do it.”

And that’s all for today!

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