What is the difference between the Simple Past and the Present Perfect?

The Simple Past and the Present Perfect Simple are often interchangeable.

A person can say: 'I saw this person' or 'I have seen this person' with little difference in meaning. However, if the speaker wishes to add a time expression to the sentence, then he or she has to be more selective in his or her choice.

The Simple Past goes with a precise point in time which limits the action to a finished time: I saw this person yesterday.

The Present Perfect Simple goes with an indefinite time which situates the action as happening inside a period of time which continues up to the present time: I have seen this person before. Notice how the word before could mean anything before now. It could be yesterday or two years ago. It purposely remains ambiguous or indefinite.

Témoignages

Depuis plus de 10 ans, notre ministère utilise les services du Carrefour des langues et nous pouvons dire que ce fut un service de qualité, apprécié de tous les employés. Les formateurs planifient bien leurs cours et les adaptent en fonction des besoins de leur clientèle.

Marie-Hélène
Responsable de la formation linguistique
Pêches et Océans Canada