Intermediate grammar exercise: past simple or present perfect (1)

English grammar practice exercise, for pre-intermediate and intermediate level.

In this exercise you will practise using the past simple and present perfect tenses.

Exercise instructions

Use the words in brackets to put each of the following into either the past simple or present perfect:

questions go herescore goes here

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Structure of past simple
positive negative question
I / you /
he / she / it /
we / they
arrived.
I / you /
he / she / it /
we / they
didn’t arrive.
Did
I / you / he / she / it /
we / they
arrive?
Structure of present perfect simple
positive negative question
I / you / we / they
have gone.
I / you / we / they
haven’t gone.
Have
I / you / we / they
gone?
he / she / it
has gone.
he / she / it
hasn’t gone.
Has
he / she / it
gone?
Past simple – common mistakes
Common mistakes Correct version Why?
I was work in London. I worked in London. In positive sentences, a helping verb such as was or did is not used.
He worked in London? Did he work in London? The helping verb did is used in past simple questions.
Worked he in London? Did he work in London? The helping verb did is used in past simple questions.
Did he wrote a letter? Did he write a letter? The main verb is used in the infinitive form in questions and negatives.
He didn't wrote a letter. He didn't write a letter. The main verb is used in the infinitive form in questions and negatives.
He writed a letter. He wrote a letter. Some verbs are irregular. Not all verbs end in -ed in the past simple form.
Present perfect simple – common mistakes
Common mistakes Correct version Why?
I worked every day this week. I have worked every day this week. We use the present perfect (have worked) when we speak about an unfinished time period (this week, this year, etc).
Steven has wrote a new book. Steven has written a new book. We use the past participle of the verb – written is the past participle, wrote is the past simple.
Did you have seen him before? Have you seen him before? The helping verb have is used in the present perfect and it is inverted with the person (you have becomes have you).
I didn't have seen him before. I haven't seen him before. The helping verb have is used in the present perfect – to make it negative we simply add not (n't).
I am here since last week. I have been here since last week. The present perfect is used to show an action which continues to the present (an unfinished action).
I've been knowing him for 5 years. I've known him for 5 years. Verbs such as know, want, like, etc. (called stative verbs) suggest permanent states, not actions, so are used in the simple form, NOT the -ing form.

8 Comments

  1. Mohamed - January 20, 2016, 10:07 am Reply

    Really useful but i am confused with that:
    1-Did you see him before?
    2-Have you seen him before?

    • Stuart Cook - February 2, 2016, 10:55 am Reply

      “Have you seen him before?” is correct.

      • Anonymous - March 6, 2016, 2:48 pm Reply

        Still can’t understand why it should be in the present perfect when the time expression is in the past in such a sentence.
        The US President (visit)
        HAS VISITED
        our country three times in the last two years

        • Yauheni - April 12, 2016, 8:32 pm Reply

          Because in this case we use pattern “how many times”. When we need to say “how many times” we use Present Perfect.
          I offer to check it in Murphy’s grammar book for intermediate level. It is in Unit 6-10 maybe

    • gabriella - January 9, 2017, 5:45 pm Reply

      have you seen him before is correct.

  2. Anonymous - April 20, 2016, 10:52 am Reply

    I still getting confused how can we know that in the sentences should use present perfect it past simple

    • Anonymous - June 4, 2016, 6:42 pm Reply

      When the action is carried out completely in the past, it has no repercussions to the present or a time is specified ie yesterday, last week, in April, in 2010 etc we use the past simple. Hope it helps 😉

  3. Anonymous - October 9, 2017, 9:35 am Reply

    good job it is a usefull exercise

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