chapter  18
6 Pages

Introduction

The present perfect tense

The present perfect tense in English, for example ‘I have worked’, is much more linked to the present than the Dutch present perfect Ik heb gewerkt. When speakers of English talk about past events, they prefer to use the simple past tense: ‘I worked’. They use the present perfect to express events that last into the present such as ‘I have lived here for three years’ (that is, I am still living here) or ‘I have seen that film six times’ (and I may see it again). The Dutch commonly use the simple past (Ik werkte) for the narration of repeated events in the past (things one used to do, for instance) or for a series of events in the past. Consequently, the simple past is used more in written Dutch, and the present perfect is used more in spoken Dutch. The present perfect is used for the narration of completed, non-recurrent events in the past, often accompanied by words such as gisteren, een maand geleden, vorige week, etc.