In the book Grammar Lab, there were examples of words that would give away the tense, for example, the words "yesterday, last week, the last time, when, etc" and "since, for, yet, still, so far, etc" Now I have found some words that might be one of these but I need to make sure I can confidently use these words with the correct sentences.

Are the phrases "back then, at that time, when I was young" used with Past Simple rather than Present Perfect? If not, can you give me examples of sentences against the statement? Do you know any other words that might give away the tense?

1 Answer 1


I think that your question can be answered keeping in mind the difference between "Definite Past" (when we use the Simple Past Tense) or "Indefinite Past" (when we use the Present Perfect Tense).

If we have in a sentence words or expressions that define the moment of the time when the action occurred (for example, yesterday), we work with the Simple Past Tense. On the other hand, if the sentence lacks words or expressions that determine the time of the action in the past, we use the Present Perfect Tense.

We must remember that the Present Perfect can also be used to express an action that started in the past and continues in the present. In this case, the words "since" and "for", among others, can be used. In my opinion, "back then, at that time, when I was young" are expressions that express a kind of past that is defined. So, we should use the "Simple Past".

  • I broke your answer into three paragraphs so it could be more easily read. Dec 11, 2019 at 4:28

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