Jim has lived there.

Jim lived there.

Jim had lived there.

Are there any differences?
When do I use one or the other?
I'm trying to teach this to a foreign person and am having a hard time.

2 Answers 2

  • Jim has lived there is present perfect. This describes a past action or event with present consequences
  • Jim lived there is simple past or preterite. This describes an action or event which took place in the past
  • Jim had lived there is past perfect or pluperfect. This describes an action or event which took place before another past action or event.
  • Jim was living there is past continuous or imperfect. This describes an action or event over a period of time, or coincident with or interrupted by another.
  • Jim had been living there is past perfect continuous. This describes an action or event over a period of time which took place before another past action or event.

So you might have something like the following (true) statements.

Jim was living in South Africa when his fourth child was born.

Jim had been living in Pakistan before he moved to the United States.

Jim lived in Malaysia for three years in the 1960s.

Jim did not live in France, but he did live in Switzerland near the French border.

Jim has lived in England since his retirement and does not want to move house ever again.

  • (+1) An excellent answer! Great examples. Consider adding for present perfect a 'since' example, to show that this tense/aspect can continue up to the present. 'Jim has lived in Geneva since he moved there after his parents' divorce', for example.
    – Karl
    Apr 5, 2011 at 3:08
  • @Karl: I have changed the list slightly to meet your point, as in real life the parents of the Jim I am thinking of did not divorce.
    – Henry
    Apr 5, 2011 at 6:41
  • Fair enough. Well incorporated.
    – Karl
    Apr 5, 2011 at 12:41
  • +1. Quick question: why using (Jim had been living in) and not (Jim had lived in)? Mar 9, 2014 at 8:24
  • 1
    @Joraid: It seemed to fit better, but the alternative is not wrong. In fact several of the alternatives fit in the Pakistan before US example, with the continuous versions suggesting a more immediate move from one country to the next.
    – Henry
    Mar 9, 2014 at 8:32

Jim has lived there.

At some time in the past, that was Jim's residence, possibly more than once, but we're probably talking about a short duration and may be talking about a recent period of time.

Jim lived there.

At one time that was Jim's home. We might have started the conversation talking about a house, but now we're mentioning that Jim used to live in it. Or we could be talking about Jim and where he lived. He probably lived in that place for a longer period of time.

Jim had lived there.

We might be confirming that Jim did once live in that place at some point in the past, or we could be talking about a certain period of time in the past (call it 2005) where Jim was living in a certain place and wanted to specify that at some previous time (call it 2000) Jim was living at a different place. We might also be introducing the topic of where Jim was living at a certain time in order to contrast it with some other place or contradict someone's assertion that Jim did not ever live there.

  • You might add that has necessarily suggests that Jim's living there (in the past) has an effect on the present (ie. there is evidence that he has lived here).
    – snumpy
    Apr 5, 2011 at 1:18

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