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There are situations about repeated actions until the present without specific time.

Here are some examples:

  1. I visited/ have visited Paris two times. It is a beautiful city. I think you should visit it once in your life.
  1. [Context] My friend planned to visit my country for a week. He has been staying in my country for three days now and I want to know which places he visited / has visited, so that I can recommend him other places to visit. Which question would be correct? I don't know which tense would be correct to use.

Where did you visit? / Where did you visit in the last few days? Where have you visited?/ Where have you visited since you came here?

  • I visited X, Y, Z. / I have visited X, Y,Z.
  1. Every time I planted/'ve planted roses in the garden, they died/'ve died. I may try planting some geraniums instead.

In the US, is it still possible to use the simple past in (1), (2), and (3) with the same meaning as the present perfect?

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    In colloquial BrEng we do use the simple past tense in this way but, I think, only because we have picked up an American habit. In more formal contexts we would use the simple past only with specific instances, for instance "I lost the key yesterday" or "I lost the key because I had a hole in my pocket". To say that we had lost the key in general terms we would normally say "I have lost the key". The same thing applies to other verbs as in "I visited Paris last year" as opposed to "I have visited Paris"
    – BoldBen
    May 1, 2023 at 7:44
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    In the US, one would say my key, although there are situations with a shared key where it would make sense -- but not this situation. If the speaker and addressee shared a key and it's been lost, both of them need to find a place to stay. May 1, 2023 at 14:04
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    There are too many other mistakes in the example sentences to comment on tense usage, which is not an important factor in English. Most English speakers don't care or can't tell the difference anyway because it's always contracted. If you want to know the details about the English present perfect construction, here they are. May 1, 2023 at 19:27
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    These are all fine. They mean the same thing but the sense is subtly different. The present perfect refers the past as of now: I have visited Paris twice [so far]. The past simple refers to before now: I visited Paris twice [before]. May 2, 2023 at 13:56
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    @LE HANH: In the U.S., we don't all speak the same. There are different regions, and different levels of education, and these influence our grammar. If you want to be sure that people will consider your English correct, use the present perfect in (2). May 3, 2023 at 16:14

1 Answer 1

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It all depends on what you want to say:

  1. In your context, "I have visited Paris" just means you are telling us this occurred in the past but when that happened does not matter in the conversation or what you are trying to convey. It merely signals past, at the time you are speaking in the present.

  2. The minute you want to be specific by either explicitly informing us of when you actually bought it or even if you don't specifically state it, you use the simple past. I visited Paris last year. Or just: Yes, I visited Paris.

Both are correct. However, both do not have the same relationship to the time of speaking.

If you say: I visited Paris and I loved it. visited (simple past) implies a specific moment in time even if you do not state it: yesterday, last week, two days ago. That is why sometimes people call it a finished action. It really should be called an action that occurs at a specific moment in time.

have visited just means in the past and when exactly is not relevant to the present time in which I am speaking. This meaning conveyed by ELLers is sometimes quite hard to grasp unless you speak Spanish, for instance.

The present perfect is not about repeated action per se. It's about not being specific about a moment in the past.

Please note: A simple past does not have the emphasis as the present perfect in British or American English.

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  • Quote:"If you say: I visited Paris and I loved it. visited (simple past) implies a specific moment in time even if you do not state it: yesterday, last week, two days ago. " =>So, let me apply this explanation to my example: "I visited/ have visited Paris two times. It is a beautiful city. I think you should visit it once in your life." I can use the simple past when I think of my 2 visiting at 2 specific times (although I don't mention it in my sentence).I can use the present perfect if I think of them as actions in the past and the time of happening is not in my thought when I speak.
    – LE HANH
    May 6, 2023 at 3:57
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    @LEHANH You got it. :)
    – Lambie
    May 6, 2023 at 13:48
  • "I visited/ have visited Paris two times. It is a beautiful city. I think you should visit it once in your life." Even either tense is good to use, as I observed through movies, it seems that natives prefers using present perfect in this case. Am I right?
    – LE HANH
    May 6, 2023 at 14:09
  • @LEHANH No, that is NOT right. It depends on what YOU want to say. You keep making me repeat myself. It's not fair. :)
    – Lambie
    May 6, 2023 at 16:37
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    @LEHANH My answer addresses the difference between the two. That difference will exist in any context where one or the other can be used. [You and I were only discussing]
    – Lambie
    May 7, 2023 at 14:00

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