English Grammar

Present perfect tense or Past tense : That's the question

In my last exercise I made a mistake to have used the past tense instead of the present perfect in the following sentence :
"I was (have been) to Japan in the last year".
The explanation is : "in the last year" is not a specified time

In the previous exercise the right choice was :
"I went to Japan last year"
The explanation is : "last year" is a definite period of time.

What is the difference between the two phrases below ?
"last year" and "in the last year"


  • hi
  • "Bollocks! Try to explain yourself accurately next time, Joe, then you don't have to defend yourself afterwards."

    That's what your inner voice is supposed to say (not me)

    It's the internalized voice of your mother. Everytime you came to lunch she said to you: "You haven't washed your hands again, you nasty differently-sized-bollocks-boy."
  • HI, I'm not convinced by the answer of Joe the screwball.
    As far as I know,
    - the last year: the year previous this one. Preterite
    - in the last year: reaches right up to now: in french: au cours des 12 dernier mois So you must use the present perfect.
  • hi,
    please can you tell how do to memorise the word inglish
  • Got it, HushHush.
    I'll never do it again.

    Next time one had better let Theodor deal with the issue. I dare say he the best grammatian I've ever met. His outstanding clarification of how to conjugate modal auxiliary verbs let me flabbergasted. He is the gods' gift to GG users.

    Got it, HushHush.
    I don't hush up.
    I tell it loud and clear: I'll never do it again since, as a victim of a hacker, I am bound to leave.
    Joe the screwball
  • You crafty gal, AMARIE. It's very kind of you to point out that every day begins a new year. I can't fail to tell that I have been won over by your explanation.
    "au cours des 12 derniers mois/in the course of the last 12 months" would be the same as "au cours de l'année dernière/in the course of the last year", (perhaps not the same as "au cours de l'an dernier?").

    I think your account makes it.

    If I have never been to Japan, or if I have already been to Japan, that means that up to now I am in the position of not having been or having been.
    As a matter of fact, that's what I had tried to say -very awkwadly, I confess - that 'in the course of last year is supposed to have a connection with the present situation'.

    Many thanks.
  • Good morning Stephen,

    In your past exercise (specified place and time in the past) you made (simple past) a mistake IN USING the past tense instead of the present perfect.

    You went to Japan last year?
    Here 'last year' is taken as a whole differentiated from all the other years, i.e. a particuliar point in past time. You went last year, not in the year before last, nor in any other year. Moreover the action of going to Japan is completed. You are no longer going to Japan at the moment.

    You have been to Japan in the last year. = You have been over there IN THE COURSE OF the last year but you don't tell in which part of the year you went. You leave people in pure vagueness. Moreover the fact of being in Japan in the course of last year is supposed to have a connection with your present situation e.g. you are still in Japan today, or as you have been to Japan you are able to speak about it right now, or your wife is a Japanese girl, or whatever linking the past event with the present situation.

    Extra bug as incitation to headache:
    I have been to Japan
    told for
    I have gone to Japan.
    Here I give up telling more.

    Anyway, Stephen, never forget all that is from a screwball.

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