Category Archives: Intermediate Level +

Mini Lesson: Present Perfect vs. Past Simple

There are many rules and examples to explain when it is correct to use the Present Perfect, and when to use Past Simple.

Perhaps the simplest way to remember the main difference is to think in terms of an ‘open’ period of time and a ‘closed’ period of time.

Generally we use the Present Perfect if we are talking about an action taking place in an open period of time. This means a period of time that is not finished, includes the present and possibly the future.

“I have lived in this house all my life.”

From this sentence we understand the person’s life as an open period of time (the person is still living). So, they have lived in that house until now and may continue living there in the future. (Or not).





However, if the sentence refers to a closed period of time, in other words, a specific period in the past that is finished, we would use the Past Simple.

“I lived in this house all my childhood.”

If the person speaking is an adult, then the period of time (their childhood) is closed since he or she is not a child anymore. This is why we use the Past Simple.






Some course books and teachers talk about actions that are completed or not completed. This can be confusing in sentences like these:

“I have written ten text messages this morning.”

“I wrote ten text messages this morning.”

The difference between the two is not related to the action being completed or not. (In both cases the action of writing ten messages is completed.) The difference is that in the first sentence we understand that the period of time (this morning) is still open. In other words, it is still morning, and it is possible for that person to write more messages in that period.

In the second sentence, we understand that the period of time is closed. (Now, it is afternoon.)


This grammar tip can help you remember and/or understand other rules of Present Perfect vs. Past Simple such as:

Present Perfect is used for actions that continue in the present.

In the sentence, “I have worked here for fifteen years.” the 15 years is referring to an open period which is not finished and could go on to become 16 years, 17 years, etc.

However, in the sentence “I worked here for fifteen years.” the 15 years is referring to a closed period. So, it is clear that the person speaking does not work there now.


What would you like our next Mini Lesson to be about? Let us know!


Tagged , , , ,

Fifty People, One Question

“Where would you wish to wake up tomorrow?”
“Before the end of today, what would you wish to happen?”
These are some of the questions asked to people all over the world, in a project that aims to explore our inner side… wherever and whoever we are.
Enjoy the videos of this interesting initiative here.

English Mania!

In this 6-minute video, Jay Walker explains why two billion people around the world are trying to learn English. He also shows us the curious method being used by the Chinese to become fluent in “the world’s second language”.
(This video can be viewed with subtitles in English and Spanish, among others.)

House Exchange

In times of crisis, you have to make the best of what you have and try to save up as much as you can. 
Here is a way to travel by cutting down on the costs of accommodation and at the same time optimizing the payments of your house loan…

Too good to be true?
See for yourself!: Intervac

Have You Lost a Camera Lately?

Does honesty still exist? For (some lucky) lost cameras, it does!

People can surprise you sometimes.
When I first read about this initiative, I couldn’t really “picture it”, but yes, it exists and it works!
If you (or a friend or relative) lost your camera on a trip, now you have a chance to rescue it and your lost pictures with it too:

Etiquette on a Plane

Should we memorize the contents of this article for the next time we’ll catch a plane… or maybe people do get a little intolerant sometimes?
Well, we all have at least one curious story to tell about our journeys “up in the air”:
– something unpleasant that happened to us
– someone we wish we never met
– terrible smells
– terrible folks
– terrible kids
– terrible stuff in general!
Do you think your experience would have been better if people read this survey before boarding?

How not to behave on a plane.

When You Want Something Really Bad…

This is what someone very creative and equally determined could do in order to get his favourite company to notice him (and hopefully hire him)…
What did he do?
Did he get the job?
Was the fuss worth it?
Solve the “mystery” by clicking here!

Do You Speak Engrish?

20 Worst Engrish Ever

If you’re just getting back from vacation, you might have noticed most messages translated into English. However, not always with the best results. Here are a few examples of mistakes you might find when traveling that could be more than just a little, uh,  confusing…

It seems an English teacher’s job is never done!

Looking for a way to save some money? Try Scavenging.


As hard times carry on, the ideas people come up with to help us tighten our belts and make it to the end of the month seems endless. Her is another curious proposal… giving a new meaning to Scavenging (normally associated to looking for useful items thrown on the street) so that we see it as a concept that “encompasses every possible means of legally acquiring stuff for free — or for as cheaply as possible.”
Of course it requires some minor lifestyle changes, an open mind and getting your hands dirty in some cases… but looking at the photos on this blog, saving money looks like fun! (??)

"Just what I've been looking for!"

How Safe Are You?

Get Safe Online

The World of the Web can be a  scary place to roam. Everyday we hear nightmare stories of internet crime that make us wonder: “Am I safe?”

Well, why not find out?

At Get Safe Online you can get expert advice for free on how to protect yourself from falling into online traps. With a variety of tips, videos, and even a fun test to see how safe you really are, you’ll soon feel comfortable to surf the net without always looking over your shoulder!

In English