English Grammar

past tenses

I have some troubles with the tense they call ‘present perfect”. First, for me it is a past tense, not a present, probably because it is constructed like the French passé composé, but it is not always equivalent.

When I wrote “. I have forgotten my wallet this morning” gg corrected : we are speaking of the past, (all the verbs of the exercice were in the preterit tense) we must use the preterit tense : I forgot. I had chosen the present perfect because I thought there was in it an idea of something which is finished, and has an effect on the present (he (has forgotten) forgot his wallet, so he can’t go out for lunch because he has no money ) Did I dream this idea ?

About the preterit tense, it is said : Le prétérit correspond le plus souvent au passé composé français. I don’t agree with this, and in this exercice, most of the verbs in the preterit tense were to be translated in a “passé simple”, not a “passé composé”.

And in the other hand, in the lesson about the present perfect, all the examples are translated in a French “passé composé”
I have lost my keys. J'ai perdu mes clés.
Bruno has decided to take a break.. Bruno a décidé de faire une pause.
He has done his work. Il a fait son travail.

Is there anybody to shed light on the matter for me ?


  • In English, Pimpanella, the rules of tenses are not similar to French ones.

    The present perfect is used about a past action or state, as long as there is some kind of connexion between what happenend in the past and the present time. To tell it short and sweet, the present perfect tells something that happened in the past (perfect) with a consequence on the time of the speech (present). For instance:
    1) I have forgotten my wallet at the check-out of the shop this morning. - presently in the afternoon, I'm still deprived of my wallet. -> have forgotten (present perfect) 2) I have been living in Australia since last year. (innuendo: I am still living there presently.) -> have been living (present perfect continuous) 3) I have lost my key. (present perfect) -> the keys are still missing at the time of the speech. 4) Bruno has decided to take a break (pres. perfct) -> the break is still under way. 5) He has done his work. (pres. prfct.) -> that has as a consequence for the time speaking, either his work has to be checked, or he has to be paid for it, or any else present aftermath of the work!

    The past simple or preterit is used for talking about an action, or event, or state that took place in the past and is completely over, finished, without any hint of a consequence on the present. 1° I forgot my wallet at the check-out last week and had to came back on foot. (happened last week - completely past) 2° I lived in Australia for 2 months three years ago, the time to be used to their accent. (I'm no longer down under by now.) 3° I inadvertetly lost my key yesterday. Fortunately I didn't lose my memory. There were hidden in an inner pocket. (everything is over.) 4° This morning Bruno decided to take a break from 10 to 10:30. When we sarted the meeting over, everyone was relaxed. (totally finished now that the clock is chiming noon). 5° He did the work so he could be freed according to the rules. (Now that we tell it, we don't know anything about what he is busy with.)

    CW Pimpanella, don't you think that those grammar rules are stocked in your "workbook"?
  • There are some rules about tenses in my workbook, sure, but they are all stock answers, (whereas yours are new stuff for me ;-) (maybe you should ask gymglish team for a part time job ;-)
    And as I said, I'm not convinced by all of them...
    From what you wrote above, I conclude that my choice in " he has forgotten his wallet" is right, because he still misses it, as he can't go out for lunch because of his forgetting. And so gg correction reading "we need a preterit here" is wrong. Don't you think so ?
    The consequence of the past action on the present you point out is the idea I had about the present perfect, which I wondered if it was fair.
    So I'm still not completely clear with those two tenses...
  • Unless... yes, I think I get it ! I was reading again what you wrote, and suddenly I saw the light ;-) Because ALL THE TEXT of the exercice was in the past, everything is finished now, the past was related with a present which is past itself, now. Thank a lot, AhQ !!
  • Don't worry, Pimpanella. For sure I also use to misdemeanors in that foreign language. I think it's not a big deal as far as my say is caught by the person I'm speaking to. Have a sunny Sunday.
  • What a bug in my latest post !!! I'm also used to misdemeanours. That was a proof, hey.
  • I don't worry, I've time to learn, nobody is putting pressure on me, and for me, besides the aim of improving my talking and understanding in English, there is also the pleasure of learning.
    I need to understand my mistakes, to know why this is wrong and that is right.

    Now I'm not sure I really catch your say, your misdemeanors, which seems to be an offense, a violation, are you freely using the word for an error, a mistake ?

    It's an inside sun, today... Hope it's the same for you.
  • I used "misdemeanor" as a hyperbole, Pimpanella. I 'd say in French "un crime". It's likely inappropriate. I'd better say a bad behaviour. Thank you for your follow-up.

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