A: Is David still here?

B: No, I'm afraid he isn't. He went out about ten minutes ago.

This dialogue is from Murphy's Grammar book. When I was doing this exercise I was pretty sure that the correct version is "he's gone", because "ten minutes ago" indicates present perfect. He just left. Why is it right to use the simple past tense here?

  • 1
    "I was pretty sure that the correct version is "he's gone", because "ten minutes ago" indicates present perfect." -- That's not correct. The present perfect can't be used with a specific point of time in the past. -- In case that doesn't sound like a clue, try replacing "about ten minutes ago" with "yesterday". -- For example, *"He has been there yesterday," is incorrect. Reading "he's gone" as "he is gone" doesn't work either, because *"He is there yesterday," is also incorrect. Aug 11, 2014 at 13:36
  • @ Damkerng T., this is the answer, why did you post it as a comment?
    – fluffy
    Aug 11, 2014 at 14:49
  • @Dabu,There is no cause for confusion in answering this question.since the question is in the simple present you think the answer should be in the present perfect. Here the timephrase is 10 minutes ago.so the answer must be in the simpl past Aug 25, 2019 at 5:48

1 Answer 1


The present perfect is not permitted with ten minutes ago.

As explained here, the present perfect is a statement about the present, not about the past. Consequently it cannot be used with temporal expressions located entirely in the past, only with temporal expressions which include the present.

Ten minutes ago locates the departure in the past, and therefore requires a past tense. Since the departure was completed at that time, not continuing, a verb in ‘perfective’ aspect is required; in English, that aspect is expressed by the simple past.

  • Thank you for answering the OP. I kept this question in the back of my mind for the whole week (and I missed most of ELL questions). I was trying to figure out a good way to answer the OP but it was a really busy week for me and writing up a good answer seemed to be virtually impossible. Aug 17, 2014 at 2:42

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