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In the sentence "I have been to school today" I don`t understand the use of present perfect, because the state of being at school is over for that day, I am no longer at school. Why not say I went to school today?

To me "today" in this sentence is a definition of finished time, where the past simple is required, like in "I went to school yesterday." It is not about the life experience of having been to school in general, so I don't get it.

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  • You can also say "I have been to high school" even if it was many years ago. It's just another way to say "I went to high school."
    – Robusto
    Dec 21 '17 at 19:55
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The present perfect can also be used to express a life experience.

I have seen the midnight sun.

This is most commonly from further in the past, but the grammar is the same for recent events. Usually you would add the time frame (today, yesterday, in the past year, etc.) to distinguish it from a general life experience.

Yes, I have eaten breakfast today.

She has seen that movie twice in the past week.

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The tense form you use really depends on what you want to say or convey to the listener.

For example, if your intention is say something about the past which has relevance or importance to now or to the future then you would use the present perfect tense and add some extra information (context).

e.g. I have been to school today for the first time, but I hated it and wont go anymore. (the extra information here has affected your decision not to go anymore).

If your intention is just to tell someone a fact about where you went i.e. school them you would use the simple past. This sentence might just be a simple answer to a question about where you spent your day..

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