I have read an interesting book yesterday and underlined the new words which are simple but effective.

Present perfect tense specifies an action that has recently finished. The above sentence is present perfect if I am using have (I believe).

But in my book have is given as error and the sentence is corrected by removing have. I believe by removing have we are changing the tense to simple present. But simple present does not indicates an activity that is finished.

I am not sure why have is error in the above sentence. Please suggest.

1 Answer 1

  1. Present perfect cannot be used with a temporal expression which does not include the present. The present perfect cannot be used in this sentence because it locates the action entirely in the past: yesterday. You must use the simple past.

  2. In this case ‹read› is not understood as simple present but as simple past. The two tenses are pronounced differently (present: /ri:d/, past: /rɛd/), but have exactly the same form in writing. Consequently, ‹read› is correct here.

  3. It is only occasionally true that the present perfect "specifies an action that has recently finished". The present perfect has other uses, too.

For a detailed introduction to the uses of perfect constructions, see What is the perfect, and how should I use it?, especially §§ 3.1 Grammatical meaning, 3.2 Pragmatic meaning and 4. When and how should I use the perfect?.

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