Situation 1:

My friend who is still alive,he is a very good student, he often helps me with my questions.

Which sentence is correct to use when I talk to another friend about him:

(1) I learned a lot from him

(2) I have learned a lot from him

Situation 2:

From my past work experience. In an job interview, which sentence is correct:

(1) From my work experience in the past, I learned that carefulness is important.

(2) From my work experience in the past, I have learned that carefulness is important.

Situation 3: I just done a project. Now, a teacher ask me:

(1) What did you learn from that project?

(2) What have you learned from that project?

  • 1
    I would use the perfect tense for all of them (ongoing or recent activity), unless the work experience was some time ago (if you had done a different kind of work in the meantime, for example). (NB It's I have just done a project.) Mar 10, 2023 at 9:17
  • Suppose that I have been worked for the same type of job so far. A interviewer would ask: What (did you learn)/(have you learned) from your previous jobs?
    – LE HANH
    Mar 10, 2023 at 13:53
  • 1
    If you have been working in the same type of job until now, it's appropriate for the interviewer to ask "What have you learned from your previous jobs?". Mar 10, 2023 at 14:01
  • For my situation (3) in my first post, @KateBunting tell me to use present perfect, I think that she speak British English. I wonder If American speaker use the simple past " What did you learn from that project?" in this situation.
    – LE HANH
    Mar 11, 2023 at 0:53

1 Answer 1


'I learned' is for learning that is firmly in the past, whether a long time ago or the recent past:

  • I learned to play piano when I was 7.
  • I learned to speak French at school.
  • I learned an interesting fact yesterday.

'I have learned' is still about learning in the past but it better describes a period of learning - ie something you learned over time, or something that you came to learn later, perhaps after a period of ignorance over something:

  • I have learned a better way to do this.
  • I have learned that I was wrong.
  • I have learned from my mistakes.

A comparable example might be the difference between "I went" and "I have been". "I went to the shop" could just refer to you taking a visit to the shop, whereas "I have been at the shop" better describes your entire time spent there.

  • 1
    Your "shop" example actually shows the difference between two possible prepositions - going to and being at. The difference between I went to the shop and I have been to the shop is nothing to do with "time spent there" - it's entirely a matter of relevance to time of utterance with the Perfect form. Mar 10, 2023 at 12:49
  • I googled and I found that these 2 version are available: “what did you learn from your previous jobs? And “what have you learned from your previous jobs? Both are correct to use here. Right?
    – LE HANH
    Mar 23, 2023 at 10:11

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