I would like to talk about the use of the present perfect talking about life experience/ achievements.

In an interview, I would like to tell the interviewer that I have a life experience as winning a (one) prize in a contest for developers.

I think that present perfect is proper because it implies that in the future I can take part in other contests, and winning a contest is also considered as my life experience.

Can you introduce yourself?:

  1. I worked with X company in 2020, Y company in 2022…. In addition, I have won/won a prize in a contest for developers nationwide. This prize is so meaningful for my career.

**Adding to clarify my question :

As advised in the comments, I understand that with 1 prize so far, I can use either tense. What if I have 2 prizes so far?

I have other 2 similar situations:

*Situation 1:

In 2010, I visited Thailand.

In 2016, I visited Thailand.

I would say to my friend:

  1. I have been to Thailand 2 times. It is a beautiful country. I wish I could visit one more time.

*Situation 2:

In 2010, I won a prize in a contest for developer nationwide.

In 2016, I won another prize in another contest for developer nationwide.

In an interview, I would say:

3.About my achievements, I won/ have won 2 prizes. These prizes are important to my career.

Natives told me that, I can use either "I won/I have won" in this situation.

I don't understand that why I can't use "I was" the same way as "I won" for the Thailand example:

I was in Thailand 2 times. It is a beautiful country. I wish I could visit it one more time.

  • "I wish I could" (or "I hope I will"). Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 8:01

2 Answers 2


If there is an explicit time of the action in the past, you must use the past tense.

In your example there is no explicit time in the past, but in the context of the whole paragraph, it is apparent that you are talking about events between 2020 and 2022. This gives a time, and so points to using the past tense. "In 2020 I worked . In addition, I won a prize" You are still talking about past time, so use past tense.

If you are changing perspective and are now talking about the present, you should start a new paragraph. This would make sense. Start a new paragraph to talk about a new time, a new place or a new topic.

I worked and in 2020 and 2022...

In addition, I have won a prize... It is...

  • 1
    Better, but do explain why it is important. With the linking phrase it would make even more sense to split into paragraphs.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 7:04
  • 1
    I'd tend to prefer past tense every situation you have described
    – James K
    Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 11:12
  • 1
    You are allowed to use past tense for that too. There is no real problem with the past tense. If you are writing about past events it is the most natural tense to use most of the time. It might not be the only way to express yourself but there are few situations involving past actions in which the past tense is actually wrong! So please use "I won a prize" without worry.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 10:28
  • 1
    You are still allowed to use past tense...
    – James K
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 11:57
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    Its fine.. look at my answer. If you are changing from the past to the present, then a new paragraph is called for. Really, I'm not sure what your specific difficulty is here. Both past and present perfect are correct English Grammar. But if you are changing timeframes to the present, you probably want to use a new paragraph, for the ease of your reader.
    – James K
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 14:38

'I won' is correct, and 'I have won' is wrong. 'I have won' would work e.g., in 'I have won several prizes in coding contests.' In your example you have won only one prize in one contest so we use the simple past because it doesn't make sense to imply this is something ongoing.

In the next sentence 'this prize is so meaningful for my career' is not ideal unless you explain why it is meaningful. For example, did it help you to get a new job, or to win promotion. Or if it was recent (you don't say), you could say 'I believe this prize will be meaningful in my career.'

  • Is “have won” correct in this sentence?: “I have won a prize for developers nationwide. The prize is so meaningful to my career in the future “
    – LE123
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 4:38
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    In general, in this context we would use 'have won' for multiple wins. 'Manchester United have won 10 trophies'. Vs. 'Manchester United won the league in 1999'. The context of 'Manchester United have won the league' would be that Manchester United have recently won the league.
    – thelawnet
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 6:30

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