Present perfect vs. Past simple – new activities

Posted on Jan 14 2020 - 4:46am by Zdenda

The present perfect tense is one of the most difficult tenses for my students. Therefore, I have spent a lot of time creating various materials to teach this tense. To save your time, I share the materials here.

In this post, you will find a presentation in which I try to explain the difference between the past simple and the present perfect tense. Then there are several exercises which contrast the two tenses and then there is an online activity. I hope you will find these activities useful.

Explanation

The following PowerPoint presentation explains the difference between the present perfect simple and the past simple tenses. You can download the presentation below and you can use it in your classes.

I explain the grammar in this way:

I set the topic.

The past simple tense is used when we know when the event happened.

We use the present perfect tense when we speak about the experience. It is not important when the thing happened, but that the person has such experience in their mind.

Using this picture I elicit what he has done.

We use the present perfect tense to say how we got into a situation which is now.

I elicit the answer to the question “Why is the room such a mess?” I insist that the students use the present perfect tense. It is a good idea to let the students write their sentences first.

This time the students have to explain why he is so happy. They use the present perfect tense again.

Now students copy the graphic organiser and write their own explanations as they remember it.

Doing the last activity, you might be shocked how little the students actually remember from your presentation. But the need to retrieve the information is the phase when the real learning happens.

Exercises to practise the grammar

It is not exactly easy to make sentences where you should use only one of the tenses. However, recently, I have made two exercises which I am quite happy with. You can download the exercises below:

Present perfect vs Past simple – online practice

The big advantage of an online practice is the zero preparation, the possibility to repeat the same grammar as often as you want and the fact that students can practise the grammar at home.

http://www.ucimeaj.cz/GrammarPac/index.html

The activity is very simple. Just click on the grammar point you would like to practise and then the first sentence appears. You have to say the sentence correctly (aloud). Then the correct answer appears and after a while, another sentence appears. It goes on like this till all the sentences (in our case 20 sentences) appear.

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