I know that there are situations I can use either simple past and present perfect.

For example:

I changed my mind. I can go out with you for dinner tonight.

-> This sentence focuses that the change happened at some time in the past

I have changed my mind. I can go out with you for dinner tonight.

-> This sentence focuses on the present consequence, that is now my mind is different and I have a new decision now.

I have another example:

One of my mother’s friend haven’t seen me for 5 years. Today, she comes to my house and meets me, she will say:

You (have changed)/(changed) a lot, Jane. Now you are a pretty lady.

I know that we use present perfect for a past action has consequence on the present. Here the change happened in the past, the consequence in the present is that now I am a pretty lady. So that the present perfect is a good choice here.

But I am still wonder if the simple past is still fine to use here? Because I just want put the focus on a past action.

1 Answer 1


It doesn't sound a very tactful thing to say, as it implies that you were ugly five years ago!

She would say "You have changed", because if she hasn't seen you for five years she doesn't know when the change happened, she only sees what you look like now. (I'm British - I don't know whether an American would express it differently.)

  • I think that although she haven’t met me for the last 5 years, but she still understand that the change happened in the past ( the change can’t happening now) . That past changed causes a present impact.
    – LE HANH
    Feb 18 at 9:23
  • Well, of course she knows it happened in the past! But she doesn't know at what point in those five years it happened, or if it was gradual. Feb 18 at 9:47
  • "I lost my key". Can you help me call a locksmith? Here I don't know the exact time I lost my key. but I still can use the simple past.
    – LE HANH
    Feb 18 at 10:07
  • 1
    I would say "I've lost my key", but an American might use the simple past. Feb 18 at 11:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .