When do we use past simple and when do we use present perfect tense?

In the following example:

Who has created this building?

I think I must use present perfect because I don't have any hint which connects us with a time or place. Or should it be:

Who did create this building?

Another example:

I was near the river.

If I have been near the river, I can say the above sentence only when I have never been here before and it's my first experience to be here?

Could some please explain me, please. Is there a possibility if someone can share some links where I can read about this in more detail?


Simple past is for completed actions at a specified time:

  • I ate breakfast at 9 am

  • This building was built in 1950.

Present perfect has a different usage: it is used when the time that something occurred is unknown or unimportant. We use Present Perfect for events in the past with an effect now:

  • I have eaten breakfast. (When I ate breakfast is unimportant, what is important is that I am not hungry now.)

  • The building has been built.

Present perfect is also used with events in the recent past:

  • The President has announced his plans for the next month.

BTW: Your question should read,'Who created this building?', although 'create' is not a good verb to use in this context- the 'creator' of a building could be one of many people performing different functions - Was the person who designed it? The person or people who physically constructed it? Or was it the person who paid for it?

Hope this helps

| improve this answer | |
  • Yes, I mean the person who designed that building. – Andrew Yaremchuk Jan 14 '18 at 22:18
  • Why did you write “The building has been built”? Where is the connection with this time? – Andrew Yaremchuk Jan 14 '18 at 22:20
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    But 'Who built this building?' is correct even though there is no specified time. And 'This building was built ...' is a passive construction. – Edwin Ashworth Jan 14 '18 at 23:49
  • The building has been built - it is complete and there it is - we can see it, it exists in the present. – Romsun Jan 15 '18 at 23:20

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