What is the difference between the Simple aspect and the Perfect aspect?

Background: It says: "The simple aspect does not tell us whether action is ongoing or complete as it does not contain either the progressive or perfective aspects."

However, from the following example, I can make out that the action was completed. Example: We climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

On the other hand, the perfect aspect is not that confusing.

Example: We have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice as of today. Example: He has finished his homework just now. (both are completed actions in reference to the present)

  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on English Language Learners Meta, or in English Language Learners Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – gotube
    Oct 23, 2023 at 7:25
  • @BillJ and brp7, this conversation is about how you believe the terms "simple", "perfect" etc. should be categorized, and is tangential to the actual question about the difference between "simple" and "perfect".
    – gotube
    Oct 23, 2023 at 7:28

1 Answer 1


Yes, past tense clauses indicate that the action or state was in the past (which implies it must be complete in the present) But it doesn't mean that the action was complete at the time in the past. Whereas a past perfect construction does have that meaning.

So if you say "I climbed Mt Fuji last year", it is clear that the action occurred last year But if you continue "... and I'd already climbed Mt Kilimanjaro" it means that the action of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro was complete at the time you climbed Fuji.

This is the difference between tense (which indicates when an action occurred) and aspect which indicates how the timing of the action relates to the time indicated by tense.

  • Hi! I upvoted your good answer!Americans and British use Past Simple to mean Present Perfect. For example they say "I just ate" instead of saying "I have just eaten". Personally, I believe that it is wrong to use Past Simple to mean Present Perfect. We use just, yet, still and already with the Present Perfect because they are related to the present moment.It is wrong to use those words with Past Simple.Could you please tell me your opinion? Oct 22, 2023 at 7:01
  • No, it's not wrong to say "I just ate". This can be used in both British and American English (though it might be more common in American)
    – James K
    Oct 22, 2023 at 7:05
  • So it's not wrong to use just, yet, still and already with Past Simple! Thank you very much! Oct 22, 2023 at 7:16

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