I´ve got a problem to understand how work present perfect/past simple in these two strucures. I will be really grateful for any kind of help.


I played in two finals this season.

I have played in two finals this season.

Here present perfect opens a possibility for more finals in the season. The season hasn´t finished yet. I may play in more finals.

However the opinion of native speakers differs when it comes to sentences with "every time". Some of them say that present perfect does have the same function here as in the two sentences above. Unfortunately there are a few of them who disagree with those natives and see it perfectly ok to use past simple + every time even though the season is still running and I still can play in more finals. I would personally use present perfect in this structure as well if I didn´t consider the season to be finished.


Every time this season I played in a final I won the trophy.

Every time this season I have played in a final I have won the trophy.

I wonder why present perfect doesn´t have the same function in both of these structures. I would not wonder if there were difference in American/British English but in this case all the help I was given comes from people using British English. Therefore it surprises me that one part of them says that:

If you want to emphasise that the activity is over and finished, you use the past. If you want to suggest that there is a continuity into the present, you use the present perfect.

On the other hand there are people saying otherwise:

The phrase "Every time in my life/career/season" is an expression of a specific past time (in fact of several specific times considered one by one), so the simple past is perfectly normal.

Thank you very much.

  • If you expect that the next time you play in a final this season, you won't win the trophy, I don't see anything wrong with using the simple past. Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 11:54
  • If you want to emphasize the fact that there are more finals to come, and you expect to win them too, you can just use the present: Every time this season I play in a final I win the trophy. Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 13:13
  • In your 2.structure sentences, "this season" is in an awkward place and thus neither sentence works for me. Without "this season" the first is acceptable and the second seems forced, but could be licensed by context, especially if (for example) that context is that I didn't play several times because of injury. This latter case is emphatic use of "have". The non-emphatic usage would be contracted to "I've". Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 14:57

2 Answers 2


The choice of tense reflects the speakers attitude towards the temporal aspect of the thing described. Competent native speakers would use the word "played" there when speaking of a season which is over and done with, and "have played" when the season is not yet over or is felt to be not yet over.

If the speaker is speaking of seasons in the plural, and understands that there may be future seasons, the present perfect would be a natural choice. If an old retired athlete were speaking of his career long ago, it would be natural for him to choose the simple past.

That said, especially if there are other temporal markers in the statement which do some of the work of the present perfect, the simple past will sometimes be used by native speakers when the present perfect would have been an apter choice.

The following sentence is grammatically/semantically discordant because there is only one final per season -- there would have to be some extenuating context to explain it, such as the final having to be played over because the referee had been found to be taking a bribe:

not OKEvery time this season I have played in a final I have won the trophy.

But this would not have such discord:

Every time I've played in a game this season I've scored a goal.

I've scored a goal in every game I've played this season.

  • So if I expect to play in more tournaments this season I should use present perfect and if I don´t I should use past simple. It surprises me that some natives wouldn´t use past simple in the strucure "I played in two tournaments this season" if they expected to play in tour. to come.But with every time they would use past simple even though they expected to play in other tournaments this season. However you suggest I don´t make any difference between the two structures and follow these p. simple/p. perfect rules in both strucures -doesn´t matter whether or not there is every time?
    – TH92
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 12:05
  • "So far this season, I've played in three games, and I hope to be a starter in next week's game. Last season, I played in only two games." In the first sentence with the present perfect, the season is "touching" the present; it is still going on. In the second sentence, about last season, the season is over with, completed, ended. It does not touch the present. Hence the simple past there. I'm not recommending you forget this distinction and use simple past to speak of things impinging on the present. I merely said that some native speakers will use the simple past in such contexts.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 13:47
  • "So far this season, I've played in three games" or "I've won a trophy in every tournament I've played this season - in tennis you can play e.g 15 finals per year. " To sum it up: Even if we are talking to each other in the middle of a season - I can use past simple in both sentences if there is a reason for it. Do I get right that in the second sentence past simple can be used for two reasons? I am not going to play in tournaments due to my injury or I am going to play in them but I don´t expect myself to win a trophy.
    – TH92
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 14:31
  • OK. Tennis is an "extenuating context" where there are multiple finals over the course of a season. The core idea here is that the simple past refers to something completed in the past, something which is over and done with, and the present-perfect refers to things which continue into the present. If the season is ongoing and there is still the possibility of additional finals, I'd say "In every final I've played this season, I've won a trophy." The temporal context "this (tennis) season" suggests that the season is still ongoing. This past season would suggest the season was finished.
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 22, 2015 at 15:02
  • Thanks please what did you mean by saying: temporal markers ? Could you give me an example please? –
    – TH92
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 20:58

Your confusion mainly lies in three important points.

  1. You can never know whether there is any season left if there are only those two sentences. It depends on context, i.e. if the season ends in December and you are saying those 2 sentences in September, people would know that there is 3-month season left. If you say them at one point next year, people would know the season is finished. Using "present perfect tense" doesn't make any difference.

I have played two finals.

This usually means either you (currently) have an experience of playing two finals or you have just finished playing them.

  1. This season clearly indicates a past time. The same rule applies to this morning, this afternoon, this evening, this January, this Spring, this year, etc. unless you use a future tense for all of them.

I will call you this afternoon. I called her this afternoon.

  1. "Every time" is used as a conjunction and doesn't affect tense at all. If you change "every time" to "whenever", it becomes clearer. This season affect tense, not "every time".

You should use simple "past tense" especially with "this season". There is no reason to use "past perfect" tense for things that happened in the past which doesn't have any influence on the present.

If you want to suggest that there is a continuity into the present, you use the present perfect.

This quote means something completely different from your examples. You can't continue playing and winning. You play for a certain period of time, i.e. 3 to 4 hours for baseball, 2 hours for association football and the play and winning should end after the time passes. They are past events which have nothing to do with the present.

  • "this morning" or "this season" indicates a period that is still current, that is either still ongoing or in the immediate past (that is none since). Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 14:42
  • @DavidMWPowers It's very subjective. You could have this conversation. At midnight, "Where is your phone?" "I think I lost it this morning on the way to work". Midnight and the time (probably around 8 am) are very far away. It is not immediate past. But it doesn't change the fact that we have to use "lost" not "have lost".
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 14:48
  • Language is always subjective and a matter of perspective. That is why there are so many-starred examples, in language texts, research papers and linguistic tomes, that are actually grammatical. They just didn't see the possible context that enables a grammatical reading. At every day timescales immediate past can be a matter of days, etc. Commented May 22, 2016 at 5:22

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