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What's the difference Past, present and Future simple and past, present and future perfect?

I don't get the difference.

December 24, 2017



Perfect tenses indicate the task is completed. Compare "When I saw him he was running a race." vs. "When I saw him he had run a race."

The first example allows that 'he' could still be running the race now. In the second 'he' has definitely completed the race.


*When I saw him he had ran the race


The correct form is "had run." "Ran" is simple past.


In what language? French?


the difference is the same in all the languages, see iron_bun's comment below


Simple past, present, future:

I ran

I run

I will run

Past, present, and future perfect:

I had run

I have run

I will have run


Each has a different form, but, depending on the language, the meanings differ.


Well, it is not really all the same. Each language uses its tenses a bit different. In German you use the present tense for all actions that happen now or regularly. And even when talking about future actions we'll likely use it rather than the future tense. When you talk about past actions you use the present perfect but if you write -a story or an essay- you use the past. If you want to make clear something has happened in the past before something else happened you choose the past perfect.

present tense: Er geht past: Er ging present perfect: Er ist gegangen past perfect: Er war gegangen future 1: Er wird gehen future 2: Er wird gegangen sein

present tense: Sie malt past: Sie malte present perfect: Sie hat gemalt past perfect: Sie hatte gemalt future 1: Sie wird malen future 2: Sie wird gemalt haben

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