The difference between Present Perfect and Simple Past is that the first is somehow connected to the present and the latter is not. However, it seems to me that "connected to the present' is a little subjective and that deciding whether an event is connected to the present depends on the speaker's interpretation of the context.

My latest question about the difference between both verb tenses is the verb "to come". What is the difference between "came" and "have come" ? Does the latter implies that the subject still is at the place? Or could it mean other connection to the Present, eg "He has come to the beach and has got a sunburn" (assuming that he is currently suffering the effects of the sunburn) ?

Furthermore, what is the correct verb tense in the sentence: "He has come to see if I am/was ok" ? I guess this is related to the above question.

Note: I'm aware that US English uses Simple Past in some contexts where UK English would use the Present Perfect, probably because it simplifies the whole process of deciding whether every event has a connection to the present or not when talking.

1 Answer 1


In your example: "He has come to see if I am okay" I would think he is still there. But you could also say: "he has come to see if I am okay several times" this week, this month, whatever. In that case it doesn't mean he is still there, it is a different use of the present perfect. The week hasn't ended yet and you are considering time until now. If you say "he came to see if I was okay", then you look back on that past moment, even if it is only a few hours ago. It is in the past.

  • Thanks for the answer! You missed my first question. Could I use the Present Perfect of "come" in "He has come to the beach and has got a sunburn", if the subject is not in the beach anymore, but he is still currently suffering the effects of the sunburn ? Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 23:42
  • Your sentence sounds like he already had the sunburn when he came to the beach. If you want to say he got sunburnt because he spent time on the beach without sunscreen you could say something like : "he has been to the beach and got sunburnt".
    – anouk
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 16:39
  • Why have you replaced "come" with "been"? Isn't "come" OK if the speaker of the sentence is in the beach right now (for instance, the day after the subject's sunburn) ? Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 17:44
  • Why do you use the Simple Past for "to get sunburned" if the past action of getting sunburned has a connection to the present ? Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 17:46
  • First question: yes. Second question: He has been to the beach, where he got his sunburn: the first sentence is your connection to the present, the present perfect is then followed by simple past for the details. It's called details of news.
    – anouk
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 19:00

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