Present perfect In british and american



Today there are many "versions" of English, due to the UK throughout its history had different geographical areas of influence on almost every continent. However, the two varieties of English, which today are taught more often, are British and American. Although English was originally distributed around the world from England, British English today is not called the "most important" and all kinds of language are treated equally.

For those who are learning English, traditionally one of the most important tips in this regard was the fact that the speech and the letter should still stick to one dialect. But today, in the context of globalization and cross-cultural communication, linguists are beginning to talk about the so-called "global" English. Today the number of people for whom English is not a native, but who speak it exceeds the number of native speakers. It leads to the fact that in a global English language boundaries of its geographic varieties are blurred.

However, it is worth to know the frequency of the use of time in the spoken and written language. In this case, in our diploma work, we have tried to identify the frequency of the use of Present Perfect and Past Simple verb forms in American and British English grammar. Because the frequency of the use of these tenses in these variants of language is different.

Difference in the frequency of the use of Present Perfect and Past Simple verb forms in American and British English (American English, hereinafter AE; British English, hereinafter BE) for a long time is discussed in the special language and popular literature.

Considerable attention to the study of this difference of American and British versions of English has given in a lot of writings of Russian linguists, in particular: V.N. Yartseva, I.R. Halperin, A.D. Schweitzer, L.P. Stupin, T.I. Belyaeva, I.A. Potapov, G.D. Zviadadze. Also, this problem were engaged some Kazakh linguists such as G. K. Kerdenova, T. Y. Shershneva

In particular Schweitzer in his book considers a number of questions on phonetics, grammar and lexicon. [1]

The specific features of these options are analyzed by him in the light of common problems of national options of the literary language. The author pays much attention not only to identification of distinctive elements of these options, but also definition of their status in system of language and to ratio identification between the general and distinctive signs of English in England and in the USA.

Also Schweitzer claims in his book: “The comparative analysis of the use of the verbal Present Perfect and Past Indefinite forms in the British and American English suggests that the ratio of the use of these forms in BE and AE are different. The average ratio of Present Perfect to Past Indefinite is equal 1: 2 in BE and 1: 3, 5 in AE.” [1] We will check this ratio in practical part of our research.

All of the above explains the relevance of our work.

Theme of our work is “The comparative analysis of Present Perfect Tense and Past”.

The aim of the research work is to analyze the reasons of the frequency of the use of Present Perfect and Past Simple verb forms on the example of American and British fiction and to identify this frequency.

Objectives are:

- to study the definition and characteristics of the category of tense of English verbs;

- to examine the peculiarities of Present Perfect and Past Simple;

- to compare the frequency of the use of Present Perfect Tense and  the Past Simple Tense in American and British English and to identify the average ratio of Present Perfect to Past Indefinite.

Object is the Present Perfect Time and the Past Time expression in English grammar.

Subject is the percentage of use of Past Simple and Present Perfect verb forms in English grammar on the basis of literary works.

Hypothesis. We suppose that the Present Perfect Tense is more frequently used than the Past Simple Tense in British fiction rather than in American fiction. And we also assume that the average ratio of the use of Present Perfect and Past Simple in BE and AE changes over time. The analysis of three chapters of the texts "An American Tragedy" by Theodore Dreiser and "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf will show the frequency of the use of Present Perfect and Past Simple verb forms on the example of American and British fiction.

Methods of investigation: in the course of our investigation we have used descriptive method and method of comparative analysis of differences between British English and American English.

Basis of investigation: our investigation has been carried out on the basis of the theoretical works of linguists such as M. Blokh, Ilyish B., Arakin V.D.; and the literary works "An American Tragedy" by Theodore Dreiser and "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf.

Theoretical value is presented in the study of the frequency of use of the two times in British English and American English.

Practical value is caused by the possibility of using the results of research in the course of theoretical grammar, and as a basis for further study of the problem.

Structure. Our course paper consists of introduction, two chapters, conclusion and bibliography and appendix.

Introduction includes topicality, theme, problem, aim, objectives, object, subject, and hypothesis, methods of investigation, theoretical value and practical value.

The first chapter contains the theoretical basis and general notions of the work. In this chapter we have tried to give a comparison in the formation and use of Present Perfect and Past Simple.

The second chapter is the practical part of our work in which we give an analysis of sentences of three chapters of texts "An American Tragedy" by Theodore Dreiser and "Mrs. Dalloway" by Virginia Woolf. In this chapter we have tried to show the frequency of the use of Present Perfect and Past Simple in the different variants of English.

In conclusion we summarize the results of our study why we use Present Perfect or Past Simple and what tense is more often used.

In bibliography provide list of literary sources of foreign and Russian linguists which we have used during our investigation.

In the appendix we provide the table of tenses of an English verb and diagram showing a ratio of use Present Perfect and Past Simple in the different variants of English.



































1 The Present Perfect Time and the Past Time Expression in different variants of English


In this chapter we will present the past time and the present perfect time in English. As we know, the past tense is a form of the verb, which indicates the time of action, which in this case is in the past. All tenses in English language differ only in the duration or quality. But, before we will present these times, we have to deal with the basics of this issue. In particular, we have to understand perfectly what from itself the category of tense of an English verb represents, and also have to know historical development of verb forms perfectly.


1.1 The category of tense of English verb and basic qualities of the Perfect forms


While the existence of the aspect category in English is a disputed matter, the tense category is universally recognised. Nobody has ever suggested characterising the distinction, for example, between wrote, writes, and will write as other than a tense distinction. Thus we shall not have to produce any arguments in favour of the existence of the category in Modern English. Our task will be on the one hand to define the category as such, and on the other, to find the distinctions within the category of tense, that is, to find out how many tenses there are in English and what each of them means and also to analyse the mutual relations between tense and other categories of the English verb.

General definition of tense

As to the general definition of tense, there seems no necessity to find a special one for the English language. The basic features of the category appear to be the same in English as in other languages. In particular Barkhudarov claims that “the category of tense may, then, be defined as a verbal category which reflects the objective category of time and expresses on this background the relations between the time of the action and the time of the utterance”. [2]

The main divisions of objective time appear to be clear enough. There are three of them, past, present, and future. However, it by no means follows that tense systems of different languages are bound to be identical. On the contrary, there are wide differences in this respect.

English tenses

In English there are the three tenses (past, present and future) represented by the forms wrote, writes, will write, or lived, lives, will live.

Strangely enough, some doubts have been expressed about the existence of a future tense in English. O. Jespersen discussed this question more than once. 1 The reason why Jespersen denied the existence of a future tense in English was that the English future is expressed by the phrase "shall/will + infinitive", and the verbs shall and will which make part of the phrase preserve, according to Jespersen, some of their original meaning (shall an element of obligation, and will an element of volition). Thus, in Jespersen's view, English has no way of expressing "pure

futurity" free from modal shades of meaning, i. e. it has no form standing on the same grammatical level as the forms of the past and present tenses. [3]

However, this reasoning is not convincing. Though the verbs shall and will may in some contexts preserve or indeed revive their original meaning of obligation or volition respectively, as a rule they are free from these shades of meaning and express mere futurity. This is especially clear in sentences where the verb will is used as an auxiliary of the future tense and where, at the same time, the meaning of volition is excluded by the context. E. g. I am so sorry, I am afraid I will have to go back to the hotel — (R. WEST) Since the verb will cannot possibly be said to preserve even the slightest shade of the meaning of volition here, it can have only one meaning — that of grammatical futurity. Of course numerous other examples might be given to illustrate this point.

Anyone who has learned English as a foreign language, and especially the one who chose the profession of teaching English in school, high school or college, knows that the greatest difficulty for Russian speakers are tenses of English verb. Indeed, for every Russian speaker puzzling is the existence of the twelve verb tenses in English grammar.

The name of any of the twelve English verb tenses begins with one of three words: Present, Past, Future. There are four types of the four types of the past and future four types which are known as Simple, Progressive, Perfect and Perfect Progressive. (Appendix 1)

The difficulties faced by English language learners in mastering English grammar is representation of verb forms (not only from the grammatical category of the times, but also the passive voice), due to the fact that the English textbooks there is no clear theoretical understanding of the meaning and function of forms of English verbs that would allow a simple way to explain what is their purpose. In other words, we need a good understanding of why the English language needs such categories as “time”, “view”, and “pledge” to communicate clearly and simply explain the principles of the relevant forms in the process of learning English. This awareness provides a cognitive approach to language as a system of knowledge representation.

In line with this approach, any grammatical category of English grammar used to express and preserve knowledge in a particular language. Whorf states: “Compared with the English vocabulary grammar is more abstract system, and so the knowledge is universal in the sense that they are important for the normal functioning of the company: no matter what language communicate members of society.” [4] This means that the grammatical categories that have different expressions in different languages substantially differ little from each other. That is why it is possible to transfer from one language (for example Russian) to another (for example, English).

With the help of the categories of tense a person divides the world around him on three areas of expertise: 1) experience directly included in the scope of the perceived feelings and perceived reality, or the present (present from Lat. Praesens), 2) experience that lasts as a memory of what has passed by our senses, or the past; 3) an experience that is predicted on the basis of existing knowledge, or the future. It is very important to understand that, in contrast to the English language in the Russian there is no-one correspondence between these concepts and so-called forms of the verb. We will consider the following situation as an example:

"The father some time ago went to business trip. Bob in the room learns lessons, mother in kitchen makes a dinner. Doorbell rings. Boy opens the door and at the sight of his father joyfully says," Mom, Dad has arrived! "

In any school (and not just the school) English grammar is indicated that "arrived" (in this case) - the form of past tense of an English verb of a perfective aspect designates the action which taking place in the past and has come to the end by the time of speech. This is the traditional approach to which all Russian speakers accustomed. But in the study of English as a foreign language such an approach we are no longer satisfied, as it allows relating what we know about the native language, with what we find in the process of learning English.

Cognitive approach focuses on answering a question about what the boy reports to mother. In this case its exclamation is interpreted so: "I see the father. Since some moment in the past, I didn't see him, i.e. he wasn't at home as he went to business trip. Now Dad is here again, so he has arrived (the logical conclusion based on background knowledge of the boy)". But after all it is a present verb. And in English where compliance between temporary concepts and tense forms of a verb is much more consecutive, than in Russian, the form of the present of a verb will be certainly used. Another question, what of four possible forms will be used: Simple, Progressive, Perfect or Perfect Progressive? And here rescue comes correct (i.e. cognitive) understanding of category of aspect in the English language.

Basic qualities of the Perfect forms

The Modern English perfect forms have been the subject of a lengthy discussion which has not so far brought about a definite result. The difficulties inherent in these forms are plain enough and may best be illustrated by the present perfect. This form contains the present of the verb have and is called present perfect, yet it denotes an action which no longer takes place, and it is (almost always) translated into Russian by the past tense, e. g. has written — написал, has arrived — приехал, etc.

The position of the perfect forms in the system of the English verb is a problem which has been treated in many different ways and has occasioned much controversy. Among the various views on the essence of the perfect forms in Modern English the following three main trends should be mentioned:

  1. The category of perfect is a peculiar tense category, i. e. a category which should be classed in the same list as the categories "present" and "past". This view was held, for example, by O. Jespersen. [3]
  2. The category of perfect is a peculiar aspect category, i. e. one which should be given a place in the list comprising "common aspect" and "continuous aspect". This view was held by a number of scholars, including Prof. G. Vorontsova. Those who hold this view have expressed different opinions about the particular aspect constituting the essence of the perfect forms. It has been variously defined as "retrospective", "resultative", "successive", etc.[5]
  3. The category of perfect is neither one of tense, nor one of aspect but a specific category different from both. It should accordingly be designated by a special term and its relations to the categories of aspect and tense should be investigated. This view was expressed by Prof. A. Smirnitsky. He took the perfect to be a means of expressing the category of "time relation" (временная отнесенность).[6]

This wide divergence of views on the very essence of a verbal category may seem astonishing. However, its causes appear to be clear enough from the point of view of present-day linguistics. These causes fall under the following three main heads:

  1. Scholars have been trying to define the basic character of this category without paying sufficient attention to the system of categories of which it is bound to make a part. As we shall see presently, considerations of the system as a whole rule out some of the proposed solutions.
  2. In seeking the meaning of the category, scholars have not always been careful to distinguish between its basic meaning (the invariable) and its modifications due to influence of context.
  3. In seeking the basic meaning of the category, scholars have not always drawn a clear line of distinction between the meaning of the grammatical category as such and the meanings which belong to, or are influenced by, the lexical meaning of the verb (or verbs) used in one of the perfect forms.

If we carefully eliminate these three sources of error and confusion we shall have a much better chance of arriving at a true and objective solution. Let us now consider the views expressed by different scholars in the order in which we mentioned them above.

If we are to find out whether the perfect can be a tense category, i. e. a tense among other tenses, we must consider its relations to the tenses already established and not liable to doubts about their basic character, i. e. past, present, and future. There is no real difficulty here. We need only recollect that there are in Modern English the forms present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. That present, past, and future are tense categories, is firmly established and has never been doubted by anyone. Now, if the perfect were also a tense category, the present perfect would be a union of two different tenses (the present and the perfect), the past perfect would likewise be a union of two different tenses (the past and the perfect) and the future perfect, too, would be a union of two different tenses (the future and the perfect). This is clearly impossible. If a form already belongs to a tense category (the present) it cannot simultaneously belong to another tense category, since two tense categories in one form would, as it were, collide and destroy each other. Hence it follows that the category of perfect cannot be a tense category. We need not consider here various views expressed by those who thought that the perfect was a tense, since their views, whatever the details may be, are shown to be untenable by the above consideration. So the view that the perfect is a special tense category has been disproved.

In order to find out whether the perfect can be an aspect category, we must consider its relations to the aspects already established.

We use here the non-committal term "form" to avoid any pre-judgement concerning the essence of the category in question. We will use the term in similar contexts elsewhere, viz. the common and the continuous aspects. This problem does not present any particular difficulty, either. We need only recollect that there are in Modern English such pairs as is writing — has been writing, was writing — had been writing, will be writing — will have been writing, i. e. present continuous and present perfect continuous, past continuous and past perfect continuous, future continuous and future perfect continuous. All of these forms belong to the continuous aspect, so the difference between them cannot possibly be based on any aspect category. For example, since both was writing and had been writing belong to the continuous aspect (as distinct from wrote and had written), they cannot be said to differ from each other on an aspect line; otherwise they would at the same time belong to one aspect and to different aspects, which is obviously impossible. Hence the conclusion is unavoidable that the perfect is not an aspect. The views of those who consider the perfect to be an aspect need not therefore be discussed here in detail.

Since the perfect is neither a tense nor an aspect, it is bound to be some special grammatical category, different both from tense and from aspect. This view, though not quite explicitly stated, was first put forward by Dolinina in a posthumous article. It is in complete harmony with the principle of distributive analysis, though Dolinina did not, at the time, use the term "distributive analysis". [7]

The essence of the grammatical category expressed by the perfect, and differing both from tense and from aspect, is hard to define and to find a name for. Prof. Smirnitsky proposed to call it "the category of time relation", which is not a very happy term, because it seems to bring us back to the old view that the perfect is a special kind of tense — a view which Prof. Smirnitsky quite rightly combated. Later it was proposed to replace his term of "time relation" by that of "correlation" (соотнесенность), which has the advantage of eliminating the undesirable term "time". This is decidedly the term to be preferred.

As to the opposition in such pairs as writes — has written, wrote — had written, will write — will have written, is writing — has been writing, was writing — had been writing, will be writing — will have been writing, Panfilov proposed to denote it by the correlative terms "non-perfect" and "perfect". [8]While this latter proposal may be fully accepted, the definition of the meaning of the category presents considerable difficulty. Its essence appears to be precedence: an action expressed by a perfect form precedes some moment in time. We cannot say that it always precedes another action: the present perfect form is most commonly used in sentences which contain no mention of any other action.

On the other hand, the use of a non-perfect form does not necessarily imply that the action did not precede some moment in time. It may, or it may not, have preceded it. To find this out, the reader or hearer has to take into account some other feature of the context, or, possibly, the situation, that is, an extralinguistic factor. Thus, the opposition between perfect and non-perfect forms is shown to be that between a marked and an unmarked item, the perfect forms being marked both in meaning (denoting precedence) and in morphological characteristics (have + second participle), and the non-perfect forms unmarked both in meaning (precedence not implied) and in morphological characteristics (purely negative characteristic: the collocation "have + second participle" not used). On the whole, as a general term to denote the basic meaning of the perfect the term "correlation" in the above-mentioned meaning seems quite acceptable and we propose to make use of it until a better term is found, which may take some time to happen.

If this view is taken, the system of verbal categories illustrated by the forms writes, is writing, has written, has been writing, wrote, was writing, had written, had been writing, will write, will be writing, will have written, will have been writing, — is based on three groups of notions, viz. tense: present vs. past vs. future; aspect: common vs. continuous; correlation: non-perfect vs. perfect. As is seen from this list, the latter two of the three oppositions are double (or "dichotomic"), i.e. they consist of only two items each, whereas the first (the tense opposition) is triple (or "trichotomic"), i. e. it consists of three items.

We will accept this state of things without entering into a discussion of the question whether every opposition must necessarily be dichotomic, i. e. consist of two members only. [9]

Thus, the opposition between writes and wrote is one of tense, that between wrote and was writing one of aspect, and that between wrote and had written one of correlation. It is obvious that two oppositions may occur together; thus, between writes and was writing there are simultaneously the oppositions of tense and aspect; between wrote and will have written there are simultaneously the oppositions of tense and correlation, and between wrote and had been writing there are simultaneously the oppositions of aspect and correlation. And, finally, all three oppositions may occur together: thus, between writes and had been writing there are simultaneously the oppositions of tense, aspect, and correlation.

If, in a system of forms, there is only one opposition, it can obviously be represented graphically on a line. If there are two oppositions, they can be represented on a plane. Now, if there are three oppositions, the system obviously cannot be represented on a plane. To represent it, we should have recourse to a three-dimensional solid, viz. a parallelepiped. Prof. Halperin has given a sketch of such a parallelepiped in his book. [10] However, a drawing of a parallelepiped cannot give the desired degree of clarity and we will not reproduce it here.

Uses of the Perfect forms

We have accepted the definition of the basic meaning of the perfect forms as that of "precedence". However, Kachalova and Izrailevich state that this definition can only be the starting point for a study of the various uses of the perfect forms. Indeed, for more than one case this definition of its meaning will seem wholly inadequate, because its actual meaning in a given context will be influenced by various factors. Though a very great amount of investigation has been carried on in this field and many phenomena have by now been elucidated, it is only fair to say that a complete solution of all the problems involved in the uses and shades of meaning of the perfect forms in Modern English is not yet in sight. [11]

At first we ask the question: what kinds of linguistic factors can be expected to have an influence on the use and shades of meaning of the perfect forms? We will try to answer this question in a general way, before proceeding to investigate the possible concrete cases.

These factors, then, would seem to be the following:

  1. the lexical meaning of the verb;
  2. the tense category of the form, i. e. whether it is the present perfect, past perfect, or future perfect (we cannot be certain in advance that the tense relation is irrelevant here);
  3. the syntactical context, i. e. whether the perfect form is used in a simple sentence, or the main clause, or again in a subordinate clause of a complex sentence.

To these should be added an extralinguistic factor.

(4) the situation in which the perfect form is used.

We now consider each of these factors separately and then come to the question of their possible interaction.

(1) The meaning of the verb used can affect the meaning of the perfect form in so far as the verb may denote either an action which is apt to produce an essential change in the state of the object (e. g. He has broken the cup) or a process which can last indefinitely without bringing about any change (e. g. He has lived in this city since 1945), etc. With the verb break, for instance, the shade of meaning would then be the result of the action (the cup is no longer a cup but a collection of fragments), whereas with the verb live no result in this exact sense can be found; we might infer a resultative meaning only in a somewhat roundabout way, by saying that he has now so many years of life in this city behind him. Thus the meaning of result, which we indeed do find in the sentence He has broken the cup, appears to be the effect of the combined meanings of the verb as such (in whatever form) and the perfect form as such. It is quite natural that this meaning should have more than once been taken to be the meaning of the perfect category as such, which was a misconception.

To give another example, if the verb denotes an action which brings about some new state of things, its perfect form is liable to acquire a shade of meaning which will not be found with a verb denoting an action unable to bring about a new state. We may, for instance, compare the sentences We have found the book (this implies that the book, which had been lost, is now once more in our possession) and We have searched the whole room for the book (which does not imply any new state with reference to the book). Of course many more examples of this kind might be given. The basic requirement is clear enough: we must find the meaning of the form itself, or its invariable, and not the meaning of the form as modified or coloured by the lexical meaning of the verb. If this requirement is clearly kept in mind, many errors which have been committed in defining the meaning of the form will be avoided.

(2) The possible dependence of the meaning of perfect forms on the tense category (present, past or future) is one of the most difficult problems which the theory of the perfect has had to face. It is quite natural to suppose that there ought to be an invariable meaning of the phrase "have + second participle", no matter what the tense of the verb have happens to be, and this indeed is the assumption we start from. However, it would be dangerous to consider this hypothesis as something ascertained, without undertaking an objective investigation of all the facts which may throw some light on the problem. We may, for instance, suspect that the present perfect, which denotes "precedence to the present", i. e. to the moment of speech, may prove different from the past perfect, denoting precedence to a moment in the past, or the future perfect, denoting precedence to a moment in the future: both the past and the future are, of course, themselves related in some way to the

This was very aptly pointed out by Irteneva in her book, where she criticised this conception of the English perfect found in several authors. Present, which appears as the centre to which all other moments of time are referred in some way or other. One of the chief points in this sphere is the following. If an action precedes another action, and the meaning of the verb is such a one that the action can have a distinct result, the present perfect form, together with the lexical meaning of the verb (and, we should add, possibly with some element of the context) may produce the meaning of a result to be seen at the very moment the sentence is uttered, so that the speaker can point at that result with his finger, as it were. Now with the past perfect and with the future perfect things are bound to be somewhat different. The past perfect (together with the factors mentioned above) would mean that the result was there at a certain moment in the past, so that the speaker could not possibly point at it with his finger. Still less could he do that if the action he spoke about was in the future, and the future perfect (again, together with all those factors) denoted a result that would be there in the future only (that is, it would only be an expected result). [12] All this has to be carefully gone into, if we are to achieve really objective conclusions and if we are to avoid unfounded generalisations and haphazard assertions which may be disproved by examining an example or two which did not happen to be at our disposal at the moment of writing.

(3) The syntactical context in which a perfect form is used is occasionally a factor of the highest importance in determining the ultimate meaning of the sentence. To illustrate this point, let us consider a few examples: “There was a half-hearted attempt at a maintenance of the properties, and then Wilbraham Hall rang with the laughter of a joke which the next day had become the common precious property of the Five Towns. Overton waited quietly till he had finished. But before he had answered, she made a grimace which Mark understood.” The action denoted by the past perfect in these sentences is not thought of as preceding the action denoted by the past tense.

Another possibility of the context influencing the actual meaning of the sentence will be seen in the following examples. The question “How long have you been here?” of course implies that the person addressed still is in the place meant by the adverb here. An answer like “I have been here for half an hour” would then practically mean, 'I have been here for half an hour and I still am here and may stay here for some time to come'. On the other hand, when, in G. B. Shaw's play, "Mrs Warren's Profession" (Act I), Vivie comes into the room and Mrs Warren asks her, "Where have you been, Vivie?" it is quite evident that Vivie no longer is in the place about which Mrs Warren is inquiring; now she is in the room with her mother and it would be pointless for Mrs Warren to ask any question about that. [13] These two uses of the present perfect (and similar uses of the past perfect, too) have sometimes been classed under the headings "present (or past) perfect inclusive" and "present (or past) perfect exclusive". This terminology cannot be recommended, because it suggests the idea that there are two different meanings of the present (or past) perfect, which is surely wrong. The difference does not lie in the meanings of the perfect form, but depends on the situation in which the sentence is used. The same consideration applies to the present (or past) perfect continuous, which is also occasionally classified into present (or past) perfect continuous inclusive and present (or past) perfect continuous exclusive. The difference in the meaning of sentences is a very real one, as will be seen from the following examples. "Sam, you know everybody," she said, "who is that terrible man I've been talking to? His name is Campofiore." I have been saving money these many months. Do you mean to say that lack has been playing with me all the time? That he has been urging me not to marry you because he intends to marry you himself? However, this is not a difference in the meaning of the verbal form itself, which is the same in all cases, but a difference depending on the situation or context. If we were to ascribe the two meanings to the form as such, we should be losing its grammatical invariable, which we are trying to determine.

Of course it cannot be said that the analysis here given exhausts all possible uses and applications of the perfect forms in Modern English. We should always bear in mind that extensions of uses are possible which may sometimes go beyond the strict limits of the system. Thus, we occasionally find the present perfect used in complex sentences both in the main and in the subordinate clause — a use which does not quite fit in with the definition of the meaning of the form. E. g. I've sometimes wondered if I haven't seemed a little too frank and free with you, if you might not have thought I had "gone gay", considering our friendship was so far from intimate. We shall best understand this use if we substitute the past tense for the present perfect. The sentence then would run like this: I have sometimes wondered if I hadn't seemed a little too frank and free with you... An important shade of meaning of the original sentence has been lost in this variant, viz. that of an experience summed up and ready at the time of speaking. With the past tense, the sentence merely deals with events of a past time unconnected with the present, whereas with the present perfect there is the additional meaning of all those past events being alive in the speaker's mind.

Other examples might of course be found in which there is some peculiarity or other in the use of a perfect form. In the course of time, if such varied uses accumulate, they may indeed bring about a modification of the meaning of the form itself. This, however, lies beyond the scope of our present study.

The peculiarities of Present Perfect Tense

We will begin with the peculiarities of Present Perfect Tense.

In “Theoretical fundamentals of grammar” V. V. Gurevich said: “The Present Perfect Tense is the first difficult topic that frightens all English language learners” [14]. It is difficult to doubt this statement, so the first we will try to understand it. The true meaning of Present Perfect Tense: transmitted by it actions are committed in the past, but they are directly related to the present:

I have broken my arm. – Я сломал руку. (It does not matter when the speaker broke his hand, it is important that now he wears a cast.)

The formation of the Present Perfect Tense:

So, the affirmative form of the Present Perfect is formed with the auxiliary verb “to have” (for the third person singular (he, she, it) – “has”), and the third form of the semantic verb:

I have done the work. – Я выполнил работу.

We have done the work. – Мы выполнили работу.

To form the interrogative form, we move the auxiliary verb "to have" forward and put it before the subject:

Have you done the work yet? – Ты уже выполнил работу?

Has she done the work yet? – Она уже выполнила работу?

In the negative form a particle “not” is added to the auxiliary verb “to have”:

I have not done the work yet. – Я еще не выполнил работу.

He has not done the work yet. – Он еще не выполнил работу.

In abbreviated form the auxiliary verb “to have” looks like 've, “has”  - as the' s:

I’ve done the work.

He’s done the work.

Reducing negative form - haven't, hasn't:

I haven’t done the work.

Hasn’t he done the work?

The use of The Present Perfect Tense:

Now we are back to cases of the use of the Present Perfect, or its functions.

I. V. Davydova and M. V. Shapovalova state: “the Present Perfect transmits action, that was fully completed in the past, but it has a connection with the present through the result of this action” [15]. So, in this case, the action is important, but not the circumstances under which it is committed:

We’ve bought a new car, so it’s time to sell the old one. –  Мы купили новую машину, так что пора продать старую. (The car is bought, that forces to think about the sale of the old one; the car is already with us, we are its owners, i.e. have bought - part of the present time).

Even easier to understand this function in such examples:

Has the secretary come? = Is the secretary in the office now? —  Секретарша пришла? = Секретарша сейчас в офисе?

The example shows that the action expressed in the Preset Perfect, happened in the past, but it has the result in the present tense.

For the Present Perfect circumstances are not important in which the action is finished, so it is often used to introduce a new subject, summarize the situation or to specify the action:

- Have you managed to reach Tom? – Тебе удалось дозвониться до Тома? (and then further answer and a description of how it happened will go; already in the Past Simple)

- Yes, I have, eventually. I called him yesterday without much hope, but he answered almost immediately. — Да, наконец дозвонился. Я звонил ему вчера без особой надежды, но он ответил почти сразу же.

If the time of action is indicated or expected in the sentence, we will not use the Present Perfect, and will choose the Past Simple. (Recall that this tense is also being used to describe the actions that occurred in the past and the facts of the past, and also the steps in chronological order.) But there is a caveat: if the period of time is not completed, we should use Present Perfect:

Your speech has been awfully boring tonight. – Твоя речь сегодня вечером была ужасно скучной. (Now it is the evening of that day)

We’ve visited so many fascinating places this year. – В этом году мы посетили множество красивых мест.(the year has not ended yet)

If specified period of time is over, without hesitation we should use Past Simple:

We went to Poland on a business trip this spring. – Этой весной мы ездили в командировку в Польшу. (now it is summer)

It is logical that in the question of the time of action (the word “when”) also we cannot use the Present Perfect, since we are talking about a specific action in the past, ended, and owned the only past time:

When was the last time you ate apples? – Когда ты в последний раз ел яблоки?

Often the Present Perfect Tense is used to show the repeated steps:

I’ve watched this movie twice already! – Я смотрел это кино уже дважды.

I’ve visited Italy four times. – Я был в Италии четыре раза.

Again, using the Present Perfect, we mention that the action was repeated, but do not describe specific situations. If we want to do it, the Past Simple will be in our possession.

Like any other tense, Present Perfect has its signal words. In this case it is an adverb, which do not represent a certain time and frequency of the action: for (в течение), since (начиная с), ever (когда-либо), never (никогда), just (только что), already (уже), yet (еще, уже), before (до этого), often (часто), seldom (редко), recently (недавно), lately (в последнее время), etc.

I agree with the words of A. Levitski. He said that the Present Perfect is used to transfer the action that began in the past and continues in the present [16]. We may also add that this is the main function of different grammatical tense - Present Perfect Continuous, and we will be right. But there are three cases where Present Perfect will replace it:

if semantic verb is expressed by verb condition. As we know, state verbs cannot be used in the group of Continuous tense, so the group of Simple tense comes to the rescue to them:

She has wanted to become an actress all her life. – Она всю жизнь мечтает стать актрисой.

I’ve loved her since we first met. – Я люблю ее с нашей первой встречи.

if semantic verb is expressed by dynamic verb that means long-term action (sleep, wait, live, work). In this case, we can use the time Present Perfect, and Present Perfect Continuous, and the meaning of the sentence does not change.

I haven’t slept for three days! – Я не сплю уже три дня!

I’ve lived in this city since childhood. – Я живу в этом городе с детства.

when the verb is in the negative form, and also the action is denied:

I haven’t heard of him for the last three years. – Последние три года я о нем ничего не слышал.

The Present Perfect is used in subordinate clauses of time after the conjunctions when, before, after, as soon as, till, until, to pass on to future action, which ends before the beginning of the action of the main clause. Immediately we look at an example:

I’ll serve you a dessert only after you have eaten the main course. – Я дам тебе десерт только после того, как ты съешь основное блюдо. (At first the action of the subordinate clause completes, and then the main action begins.)

Sometimes in such sentences the Present Simple can be used instead of the Present Perfect:

I’ll start learning English after I have graduated. = I’ll start learning English after I graduate. – Я начну учить английский, когда закончу институт.

The peculiarities of Past Simple Tense

Now we will pass to the peculiarities of Past Simple Tense.

The Past Simple Tense is the main tense which is passed by the action in the past, so it is found in English very often. It can be used in any context, whether it is literary text or spoken language. In the description of any of the events that occurred in the past, there is a place for the Past Simple.

The formation of the Past Simple Tense:

The Affirmative form of the Past Simple Tense is one semantic verb, i.e., as Blokh said: “in the affirmative form there are not auxiliary verbs” [17]. It is in the second form: the ending “-ed” is added to the infinitive of regular verbs, but the form of irregular verbs is to be found in the second column of the table of irregular verbs:

Present perfect In british and american