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I am trying to understand differences in using past simple and present perfect. Let consider following examples.

I have put onion in the soup.

I am cooking the soup now, onion is floating in water, we use perfect because we can see result now.

I put onion in the soup and I closed the pan with a lid.

There is story about actions, we use past simple. The words below are from one song:

I have climbed the highest mountains I have run through the fields Only to be with you.

This is report on the actions, and actions do not bound with each other. We use perfect. Let consider next sentences.

I have made the soup. I have cleaned up my home.

It looks like report on actions, we use perfect. But if we want to say that I first made the soup, and then did the house cleaning?

I made the soup, then I cleaned up my home (???)

How to distinguish fine line between reporting on unrelated actions and actions in the story?

EDITED ##########################################################

Thanks for reply. When I used first example, I wanted to say something in following context:

- What have you done this morning?
- I have made soup. (You can eat it now)

Present perfect, I want to point to result by now. We can use past simple, but perfect can be used too.

But if I made a sequence of actions, I can say:

I bought vegetables, washed it, sliced it, cook it. Thus I made soup.

This is story about sequence of actions, I cannot use present perfect.

Let consider another song

Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans

Read more: http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/hard-rains-gonna-fall

We have report of performed action by reporting period (sorry for tautology). My book tells me that present perfect is good for this context, because this is not story about sequence of actions, and we can use present perfect.


As I understand now, difference between story (past simple) and report (present perfect) may depends on context and what I want underscore it sentences. We can say

"I have lost my key and painted door to red colour this morning".

(= you can see red door and that I cannot ride car now.)

But I can rephrase it to

"I lost my key, tried to find it, but failed. Then I remembered about pale door and paited it to red colour."

It looks like story about sequense of actions, and we cannot use present perfect.
Correct me if I'm wrong.

marked as duplicate by Mari-Lou A, Davo, NVZ, David, tchrist Aug 12 '17 at 20:04

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"What have you done this morning?"
"I have made soup."

This reply is fine to use. However, it isn't something that is commonly used in everyday language. A more common way of saying the same thing would be, "What did you do this morning?" To which the reply would be, "I made soup." If you were to keep the sentence the same, most English speakers would reply with, "I've made soup". "I have made soup" sounds clunky, even though it is technically correct.

"I put onion in the soup and I closed the pan with a lid." This sentence is correctly written. It would sound more colloquial simplified to "I put onion in the soup and closed the pan with a lid" or even chopping off the end. "I put onion in the soup and closed the lid" works just fine and gets your point across.

"I have climbed the highest mountains and I have run through the fields only to be with you." This sentence is find once you add the "and" in the middle.

"I have made the soup. I have cleaned up my home." Like the first sentence, this does make sense but it doesn't sound very colloquial. "I have made the soup" is not something a native English speaker would say often. "I've made soup" sounds much better. Alternatively, you could change it to "I made the soup. I cleaned up my home." You can even simplify to "I made soup. I cleaned my house."

"I made the soup, then I cleaned up my home." This sentence is fine, but you could even drop the second "I". "I made the soup, then cleaned up my home."


How to distinguish fine line between reporting on unrelated actions and actions in the story?

When you are writing a story in past-tense, you would describe the actions that are unfolding in the story in this way, assuming you are writing from a First Person perspective: "I climbed through my window and passed out in bed."

Reporting on actions that have happened in the past, you would need to distinguish since you are already telling the story in past-tense. If you wanted to say how the character has climbed through the window many times in the past, you could say "I have climbed through my window."


EDIT:

"I have lost my key and painted door to red colour this morning".

The second part of this sentence does not currently make sense. "I have lost my key and painted my door red this morning" or "a red color this morning" would both be better alternatives, although the sentence is still a bit confusing. Did he lose his key and decide to paint his door because he couldn't go anywhere?

"I lost my key, tried to find it, but failed. Then I remembered about pale door and painted it to red colour."

Again, the first sentence is fine but the second one needs work. "I remembered about the pale door and painted it red" sounds better, although you would need to clarify what door he is painting. It sounds a bit jarring how one moment he lost his key and then suddenly decides to paint his door (his car door? the house door?). Another way you could say it is "Then I remembered about the pale door and decided to paint it a red colour".

  • please see edited question. – Montroz Feb 23 '16 at 3:53
  • I think there may be a good answer in here, but it needs some work. First, fix the typos -- English should be capitalized; drop one of the periods at the end of paragraph 4. Next delete all advice not having to do with verb tenses, the second paragraph in particular. Be a little clearer. "I have put onion in the soup" makes perfect sense in response to the question "You forgot to put onion in the soup, didn't you?" [con't->] – deadrat Feb 23 '16 at 4:23
  • [<-con't] The present perfect makes sense, even in a sequence, when you wish to emphasize completed action. If someone asks, "Have you completed your chores?" it's fine to respond, "I have made the soup. I have cleaned up my house. I have done everything asked of me." The present perfect covers indefinite time past up to the present. As you note, that makes it useful to imply repeated action, but that's also what makes it inapt for sequenced action. [con't->] – deadrat Feb 23 '16 at 4:24
  • [<-con't] In "I have climbed through the window and I have passed out in bed", the times referred to by the present perfect overlap, but clearly you had to climb through the window before you passed out. By the way, I am not the downvoter. – deadrat Feb 23 '16 at 4:25
  • I appreciate your comments and I will edit my answer appropriately. Let me know if the advice is clearer. – Abs Feb 23 '16 at 14:39

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