Present Simple vs. Past Simple

Present Simple vs. Past Simple – Tema 10 (Básico)


Present Simple

The simple present tense in English is used to describe an action that is regular, true or normal.

We use the present tense:

  1. For repeated or regular actions in the present time period.
  • take the train to the office.
  • The train to Berlin leaves every hour.
  • John sleeps eight hours every night during the week.
  1. For facts.
  • The President of The USA lives in The White House.
  • A dog has four legs.
  • We come from Switzerland.
  1. For habits.
  • get up early every day.
  • Carol brushes her teeth twice a day.
  • They travel to their country house every weekend.
  1. For things that are always / generally true.
  • It rains a lot in winter.
  • The Queen of England lives in Buckingham Palace.
  • They speak English at work.
Past Simple

 We use the Past Simple Tense whenever we want to talk about the past and we don’t have any special situation that means we should use the past perfect, present perfect or past continuous.

Finished actions, states or habits in the past.


1.We use it with finished actions, states or habits in the past when we have a finished time word (yesterday, last week, at 2 o’clock, in 2003).

  • I went to the cinema yesterday.
  • We spent a lot of time in Japan in 2007.


2. We use it with finished actions, states or habits in the past when we know from general knowledge that the time period has finished. This includes when the person we are talking about is dead.

  • Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa.
  • The Vikings invaded Britain.


3. We use it with finished actions, states or habits in the past that we have introduced with the present perfect or another tense. This is sometimes called ‘details of news’.

  • I’ve hurt my leg. I fell off a ladder when I was painting my bedroom.
  • I’ve been on holiday. I went to Spain and Portugal.


4. For stories or lists of events, we often use the past simple for the actions in the story and the past continuous for the background.

  • He went to a café. People were chatting and music was playing. He sat down and ordered a coffee.