Update: I'm not looking for an explanation to the two specific sentences below. I'm looking for a learning resource which gathers examples in the form presented.

As Canonical Post #2: What is the perfect, and how should I use it? puts it

The English “perfect” is deeply puzzling for learners

As a non-native speaker on the C1/C2 level, I can't stress how annoying it to put so much effort into trying to understand it, yet still making mistakes - I think mainly because this tense doesn't exist at all in my native language (Polish).

What I'm looking for, and I couldn't find it anywhere, is a website or a book that gives two sentences with the only difference being past simple or present perfect - then explains in details what is the difference in meaning and in what context one would be preferred over the other:

1a. Thanks, I've had a great time.

1b. Thanks, I had a great time.

Usage: Sentence 1a would be used in situations like .... Sentence 1b would be used in situations like ..., because of ....

Just that. The more examples, the better. Is there anything out there?

  • 2
    Can downvoters explain why the downvotes?
    – InStitches
    Apr 18, 2022 at 11:45
  • 2
    In any context where #1 is acceptable, #2 is equally valid, and means exactly the same thing (and I'd guess Simple Past #2 is actually more common). But if we cast the "great time" further into the past - for example, Thanks for inviting me to your party last week. I had a great time, ONLY Simply Past is acceptable. You can't use Present Perfect when talking about last week's party - it's only valid for very recent events (typically, when you're leaving the party; you can't even use it tomorrow morning to thank last night's party-giver). Apr 18, 2022 at 12:35
  • Thanks FumbleFingers. As mentioned, I'm not looking for an explanation to those two specific sentences. Using perfect over other tenses has many different flavours and I'm trying to find a learning resource that gathers a lot of examples exactly in the form presented. I updated my question to hopefully make it clearer.
    – InStitches
    Apr 18, 2022 at 13:33
  • 1
    I don't understand. If you're not interested in the difference between your two example sentences above, why did you include them? If you seek a much broader understanding of Perfect usages, I'm inclined to closevote in favour of StoneyB's excellent "canonical post". Otherwise, it looks like an Off Topic "request for resources" anyway. Apr 18, 2022 at 13:46
  • ...there are plenty of "What's the difference?" questions about Present Perfect / Simple Past right here on ELL. For example, went or has gone? and has done or did when using "during"? and Did vs Has done and "was" vs "has been" and many, many more. Apr 18, 2022 at 13:53
  • The sentences are there to show the format of what I'd expect to find in the external learning resource. I read the canonical post and it's amazing, but it's not exhaustive in terms of examples that would solidify my knowledge. The example questions you linked are more or less what I'm looking for, but in a more condensed structure and with explanation provided by the same person so it doesn't repeat itself. Most of the English books or articles on perfect provide just a single sentence, not comparing it to the same in another tense, if that makes sense
    – InStitches
    Apr 18, 2022 at 14:02
  • Bonus points for some interactive quiz/test along the way :) If such resource doesn't exist, it's fine. I couldn't find any. I just thought to ask here, because maybe someone is aware of it.
    – InStitches
    Apr 18, 2022 at 14:06
  • 2
    This question is an Off Topic request for resources, so I'll be voting to migrate it to ELL Meta (where it would be On Topic). But I doubt there's any "reputable / reliable" publication for what you seek anyway - and in my experience, anything you do find is likely to be very poor quality material (often from non-native Anglophone sources), so perhaps the best resource available to you is ELL anyway. You just need to ask specific questions about specific points you're having trouble understanding. Apr 18, 2022 at 14:44
  • Sorry, didn't get back to it - if ELL Meta is more appropriate then sure, I didn't know querying for resources if off topic
    – InStitches
    Apr 20, 2022 at 7:08
  • @FumbleFingers I agree, it's off topic, but probably a valid question for ELL Meta. I vote to move it. Apr 23, 2022 at 13:06
  • I don't know why 3 people have downvoted (as opposed to voting to migrate to Meta), but I've upvoted to try and redress the balance a bit. Just because it's (non-intuitively?) Off Topic doesn't mean the asker should be penalised. Especially a relatively new user who obviously wasn't aware of this particular restriction. Apr 23, 2022 at 16:19
  • I’m voting to close this question because it's a request for resources, which is explicitly off-topic for this site
    – gotube Mod
    Sep 24, 2022 at 4:26
  • @gotube but we have a tag resource-request on this Meta. I agree on the main site it is off-topic.
    – mdewey
    Sep 25, 2022 at 14:16
  • @mdewey Learn something every day. Reopened. Also, FWIW, your link points to ell, not ell.meta, so to anyone following it, it looks like there's no such tag. Not sure if that's why I disregarded your comment back in September
    – gotube Mod
    Oct 20, 2022 at 12:51


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .