A strange exercise that can help (if you don’t get obsessed and just do it inaccurately!!): visualize/visualise colo(u)rs: red for the present, blue for the past, and listen to yourself while you use these colors when you use these tenses. Tell us what happened.
First exercise you can do: https://projects4englishlearners.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/writing-tips-narrating-past-events-cf-story-telling-jokes-articles/
One based on The Mentalist: https://projects4englishlearners.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/telling-stories-using-the-mentalist/
Here is another exercise you can do or adapt to your own texts (OP work at home: Lorena, I encourage you to prepare your OP on patriarchy for a recording for your Speaking File, and then you can send it to me for feedback): https://projects4englishlearners.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/functional-translation-unit-2-avanzado-2/ (Avanzado 2 in Madrid is 6th year and we learned/learnt at the C1 level, though they just certified a B2)
Sometimes people get these two tenses wrong.
The past simple is always used when the action happened in the past and it’s totally over! You know this, but sometimes you don’t realize, like the student who posted in our Diary for Sept 19.
The present perfect is for something that happened in the past but which is still “open” now.
EXERCISE. Then, there are cases where we can hear both tenses. Can you explain the context for any of these sentences? Why am I using the tense I use in each sentence? Remember that what we have in mind (visualize, feel) doesn’t always get worded!
- What did you say?
- What have you said (just now)?
- I have bought some apples
- I bought some apples
- I have bought this amazing pair of boots!
- I have just bought the tickets
- I just bought the tickets!
- What have you bought?
- What did you buy?
- Your mother called
- Your mum has called
- I found it!