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Common mistakes in the use of simple past and present perfect tense

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Each sentence or groups of sentences given below contain one mistake. Find the mistake and correct it.

1. He has been born in 1985.

2. Did you read ‘Wuthering Heights’?

3. Have you seen ‘Wuthering Heights’ on TV last night?

4. I already spoke to the boss about my holiday.

5. I have an important test tomorrow. I think I prepared enough for the test.

6. Once upon a time there has been a beautiful princess.

7. I can’t go on holiday because I broke my leg.

8. We know each other since 1980.

9. There has been an explosion at the castle last night.

10. Tom has worked with us for ten years before he quit in 2010.

Answers

1. He was born in 1985. (We do not use the present perfect tense with expressions that refer to a completely finished period of time.)

2. Have you read ‘Wuthering Heights’? (When the exact time is not mentioned, we use the present perfect tense to refer to actions or situations that happened during a period of time extending up to now.)

3. Did you see ‘Wuthering Heights’ on TV last night? (The present perfect tense cannot be used with a definite point of time in the past.)

4. I have already spoken to the boss about my birthday. (In British English, indefinite time adverbs like already and yet are mostly used with the present perfect tense. In American English, the simple past is also possible in this case.)

5. I have an important test tomorrow. I think I have prepared enough for the test. (Simple past tense is not possible in this case because we are talking about a test that is still to come.)

6. Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess. (We do not normally use the present perfect tense in story-telling.)

7. I can’t go on holiday because I have broken my leg. (We use the present perfect tense to talk about past events that have a bearing on the present.)

8. We have known each other since 1980. (We use the present perfect tense to refer to a period of time extending up to the present.)

9. There was an explosion at the castle last night. (The present perfect tense is not used with completely finished periods of time. Instead we use the simple past tense.)

10. Tom worked with us for ten years before he quit in 2010.

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