I've been learning English for 4 month, but I don't completely understand how to use the present perfect tense in the correct way. For example: why does the computer show the message:

The file has been downloaded


The file was downloaded


  • I'm sorry if my question broke the rules of this site by some way. But I had already searched information about the issue before I asked the question. And then I didn't find the explanation that pleased me totally. James K said that both sentences are correct. All depends on the meaning we want to emphasize. I like his explanation. I'm a new user on this site and I promise to study the rules. Excuse me. (It is the reply on comment that has been deleted).
    – pythonkaa
    Jun 8 at 20:56

Both are correct grammar.

The perfect tense is used to talk about the current state (resulting from a past action):

The file is in your home directory (present). It contains data (present). It has been downloaded (present)

All three sentences talk about the present state of the file, and so use the present tense.

You can use the past tense to talk about past actions

The file was downloaded (10 minutes ago). I deleted it (5 minutes ago).

The present perfect is for present state resulting from past actions. The past tense is for past actions. The use of the tenses is difficult, especially if you don't have a similar tense in your native language (or if you have a similar tense, but it has a different meaning.

  • Thank you! Yes, my native language is Russian and it doesn't have a similar tense. I understand that Pres.P. describes the situation more certain because Past S. means that it was in the past and now the file might not be on my computer. Am I right?
    – pythonkaa
    Jun 8 at 20:50
  • The Pres. P. is for actual states, the Past. S. is for actions, events in the past… I want to repeat: thank you a lot! I think I've understood the difference between these tenses. It's the best explanation I have ever seen! I intuitively understood that perfect is for states, but I had doubts. The explanations that I met usually contained only different versions of the same: actions in the past with effects in now. Effects, results are current states! With all best wishes!
    – pythonkaa
    Jun 8 at 22:26

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