I have a problem.

I don't understand what does this "result" should look like in present perfect, because when I see in movie that a character says: I forgot it. The result is that he doesn't remember it or maybe he didn't do something. So how should I interpret it?

Three examples:

1a) "Aaaaaah! I forgot to buy something for my friend"

Interpretation: normal conversation between two characters (my interpretation is that she use "PAST" simple because she wanted to give an information, even if the result is that she doesn't have this thing)


1b) "Aaaaah! I've forgotten to buy something for my friend"

The result is that he doesn't have this thing he had to buy for his friend

2a) "Hey Tom. There was an apple in the fridge, what happened to it?"

Tom: "Yea I ate it."

Interpretation: Even if the apple wasn't in fridge "result" we are informing him, or I guess it is supposed to be some kind of informal thing. Or maybe this is some kind of emphasis?


2b) "Hey, Tom. There was an apple in the fridge, what has happened to it?

I've eaten it"

Well, he ate this apple and the result is that there is no apple in the fridge.

3a) "I haven't delivered the package."

The result is that he is holding that package, or maybe some kind of info.


3b) "I didn't deliver the package."

He just inform that he didn't deliver the package, maybe he hold this package but we don't care about result, we care about if he did it in past or not.


1 Answer 1


The simple past means something which occurred in the past. The present perfect means something which occurred in the past, with emphasis on "all the way up to the present moment, including now." However, this topic is complicated, and written about at length in other posts.

  1. "Aaaaaah I forgot, to buy something for my friend" OR "Aaaaah I've forgotten, to buy something for my friend"

In just this example #1, the past tense is preferable because it's simpler, and yet conveys the same meaning. Refer to further explanations below for #2 and #3, they may also apply here...

  1. "Hey Tom.There was an apple in the fridge, what happened to it? Yea I ate it." OR "Hey Tom. There was an apple in the fridge., what has happened to him ? I've eaten it"

Both are acceptable, however in most cases the past tense is preferable. Why complicate things with the present perfect?

A reason would be if you wanted to strongly connect the past event with the present moment. "I've eaten it, and now I feel sick." That's a valid usage.

If there isn't more to tell, and it's only "I ate the apple", then use the past tense.

The "result" on both tenses is that the apple is gone.

  1. "I haven't delivered the package ...." OR "I didn't deliver the package ..."

The present perfect "haven't" would make sense if there is more to the story in the present tense, such as "I haven't delivered the package yet, but I am going to this afternoon."

The simple past would be better for "I didn't deliver the package. Period. And I'm not going to." The story was already completed, in the past.

Therefore, each choice has a different meaning and both are valid options.

For all of these, you asked about the "result". And I think basically the "result" is the same, regardless of tense. The apple is gone. The package was not delivered.

  • Yea that's what I was thinking about this "result". some people told me that past simple is just about giving some information (even if we see the result), and present perfect is more about the result we see. Opinions = ammount of people, so it's hard for me to understand why somebody used this one instead of another
    – user331990
    Jun 30, 2019 at 22:12
  • Am I right about the result we have in those examples ? I'll give more examples later . To make sure that I get it I guess.
    – user331990
    Jul 1, 2019 at 10:30
  • @user331990 you asked if the tenses are "informing the other person about the result". In either case, the past tense or the present perfect tense, if you are speaking to someone, and say something, then you have given them information. You are telling them what happened, or has happened. The results are similar. The information is similar. It's difficult for me to see it through this viewpoint of "results versus information."
    – Sam
    Jul 1, 2019 at 23:41

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