His car is very reliable, and he rarely has any trouble with it. But he has had a couple of difficulties in the past.

Can you justify using Present Perfect in this sentence? Since "in the past" was used, the time frame must have been established, and, as I know, Present Perfect does not go with an exact time frame.


2 Answers 2


An established time frame can be "last night" or "when I was little". "In the past" or "before" are too general to be considered an exact time frame. The present perfect (in its used from your example) talks about an unspecified moment in the past / before now anyway, so you can use these two safely with it.

When the present perfect is used as in your example, "in the past" is implied. For example:

I've had some difficulties with the car.

It is obvious I have had them before now, in the past. It is not necessary to mention that. In your example it is mentioned for contrast because the first sentence refers to now.


The point about the present perfect is that it always implies (or specifies) an event or series of events occurring in a range of time, the end point of which is now. (The event or events occur before now, however.) The simple past always implies a point of time or a range of time the end point of which is before now.

Between January 2010 and now I have bought three new cars.

Between January 2010 and January 2013 I bought three new cars.

  • Do you agree with another answer?
    – mosceo
    Jun 29, 2013 at 6:21
  • If you are asking if I agree with the other answer, then yes. Otherwise, my question is "which other answer?" :)
    – BobRodes
    Jun 29, 2013 at 6:27
  • OK, thanks. This thing is very confusing, that you can write "another" (= an other), but cannot write "theother".
    – mosceo
    Jun 29, 2013 at 6:31
  • True. English spelling is very inconsistent. Consider was, fuzz, does, and because. Then rough, dough, through, trough, bough. There is a reason that they have national spelling championships in English!
    – BobRodes
    Jun 29, 2013 at 6:53

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