Say, I worked for a Japanese bakery in 2010-2012. Now that I am going to tell the people in the new bakery shop about my experience.
Shall I say:
(1), "I have two years of experience in bakery", or
(2), "I had two years of experience in bakery".
I pick (2) beacuse the two-year experience is past, but I am not sure if I am correct.
Please help me.

  • 3
    No, the use of Past Perfect in #2 doesn't really have anything to do with the fact that your bakery experience is "in the past" relative to now. You only use PP (and not necessarily even then) when your "narrative time" is already in the past, and you need to indicate that something happened even earlier than the narrative time. For example, Before I became chief executive of Warburtons, I had two years of experience in bakery (where the narrative time is when you became chief exec, but you're talking about something that happened earlier than that). Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 15:23
  • 2
    I particularly commend to you my "would-be famous dictum" Don't use Past Perfect unless you really have to. Many learners seem to tie themselves in knots trying to follow excessively prescriptive "logic" and grammatical rules about tenses. Bear in mind English only really has two tenses, and native speakers are often extremely flexible about how they're used anyway. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 15:37

2 Answers 2


If you are talking to someone in person, I would say "I worked for two years in a bakery." This is simple past, and sidesteps the question.

If you are specifically highlighting your experience, I would say "I have two years of experience in baking." The experience is something that, hopefully, stays with you. While your work at the bakery is past, your experience is still present.

It sounds like you are writing a resume. If so, the most important thing is that you pick one construction and use it all the way through, except on your current position.

For instance, in my resume, everything I currently do at my present job, I list in present tense. "Fax legal records; answer phones", etc. But for my past jobs I use all past tense. "Counted inventory, flipped burgers." Your "experience" question is kind of the exception, because experience is not something you lose. If I were writing your sentence for a past job on a resume, I would say "Gained experience in baking."

On another note, you can not have "experience in bakery." The use of the word bakery to mean the art of baking is archaic, and may never have been common. "Bakery" refers specifically to the building in which breads are baked, and takes an article. So you may have "experience in a bakery", or "experience baking", but not "experience in bakery".

On one final note, if you are writing a resume or something similar, you should definitely expand out to list more of what you did. Instead of "I have experience baking" try

I have two years of experience working in a small bakery. I have specific experience in creating both yeasted and sourdough breads, traditional flatbreads, and simple pastries. I am comfortable around hazardous baking equipment, and in the safety practices and fast pace required in the food industry.


I have two years of experience managing a small bakery. I have specific experience in managing supply chains, shrinking overhead, and screening new hires to create the best possible team. I managed a staff of six employees, and I oversaw the production of over a half-ton of baked goods a day, including yeasted and sour dough breads, traditional flatbreads and simple pastries.

Notice that in the first example it was all about experience and confidence gained, and so it was all in the past tense even though the job was in the past. In the second, Experience was listed in the present tense, but specific tasks that no longer apply are in the past tense.

  • +1 for good resume advice, however generally off-topic. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 18:34
  • 1
    You could have experience "in a bakery", as opposed to "in bakery".
    – Jay
    Commented Sep 23, 2015 at 15:08

You have to use first option.

I have two years of experience in bakery.

You still have it. It is not like you lost it or so....

  • -1 You don't know that only simple present is applicable. It depends entirely on the full narrative context (which isn't supplied). Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 15:40
  • I get it. I'll delete the answer. Commented Aug 15, 2015 at 7:08

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