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The question in the title is corroborated by the explanations from Hewing's.

[1] We usually use the past simple rather than the past continuous to talk about repeated past actions:

  • We went to Spain three times last year. (Taken from unit 4)

[2] We use the present perfect to talk about a past action, event or state, when there is some kind of connection with the present that a repeated event in the past may (or may not) happen again.

  • Lee has represented his country on many occasions, and hopes to go on to compete in the next Olympics. (Taken from Grammar reminder).

Both [1] and [2] explain the two tenses can be used to talk about repeated actions in the past, although, in my view, the present perfect is more specific.

My question is, do these sentences below have exactly the same meaning with the examples from [1] and [2]? And generally, is it interchangable to use either past simple or present perfect to talk about repeated actions in the past? (Note that, the book doesn't tell whether they're interchangeable, it's my assumption that I want to confirm here.)

  1. We have gone to Spain three times last year.
  2. Lee represented his country on many occasions, and hopes to go on to compete in the next Olympics.
  3. Lee represented his country on five occasions. (Also, I want to know if this is correct.)
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  • We went to Spain three times last year. For sure. No doubt about it.
    – Lambie
    Oct 25, 2021 at 22:18

2 Answers 2

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Let's take a look at these in turn.

  1. We have gone to Spain three times last year.

This is grammatically incorrect. Typically, when describing a past event that has occurred in a period of time that has a definite end before the moment that the statement is made, the present perfect is not an option. Here, the period of time in which the event occurred (last year, i.e. 2020) is clearly and explicitly over before statement is made (2021). Whether the event was repeated or not is irrelevant.

Now let's discuss these two:

  1. Lee represented his country on many occasions, and hopes to go on to compete in the next Olympics.
  2. Lee represented his country on five occasions.

Neither is strictly incorrect grammatically, but both sound odd because a native speaker would expect to hear the perfect:

  1. Lee has represented his country on many occasions, and hopes to go on to compete in the next Olympics.
  2. Lee has represented his country on five occasions.

The period of time here in which the events have occurred is somewhat indefinite. It is unclear when the last time Lee represented his country was, and so we can't say with any confidence that the period of time has a definite ending in the past. In this instance we'd usually expect the present perfect to be used to describe these repeated events.

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  • Without the second clause, Lee represented his country on X occasions would suggest that he has since retired or died. Oct 20, 2021 at 10:47
  • I disagree. has represented or represented is fine.
    – Lambie
    Oct 25, 2021 at 22:24
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We went to Spain three times last year.

past simple when we say, ask or know when then happened) so Last year or went it's indicative P.S.

but...

We've been to Spain three times.

You do not know when .

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