Conversation Questions: Present Perfect and Past Simple

Present perfect vs. simple past

Present Perfect SimplePast Simple
Unfinished actions that started in the past and continue to the present:

I‘ve known my wife for fifteen years (and I still know her).
Finished actions:

knew my friend Anne for fifteen years (but then she moved abroad and we lost touch).

A finished action in someone’s life (when the person is still alive or it’s a life experience; e.g. J. K. Rowling has written many books.):

Jamie has been to Japan five times.
A finished action in someone’s life (when the person is dead):

My grandmother went to Japan three times.

A finished action with a result in the present:

I‘ve lost my phone! (The result is that I can’t make phone calls).
A finished action with no result in the present:

lost my phone last month. I was annoying but now I have a better one. (I lost it month ago, it’s a closed chapter in my life.)

With an unfinished time word (this week, this month, today):

I‘ve seen my parents this month.
With a finished time word (last week, last month, yesterday):

saw my parents last week.

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Conversation Questions: Present Perfect and Past Simple

1. Did you do anything interesting last weekend?

2. Have you ever done something dangerous?

3. How old were you when you learnt to ride a bike? Who taught you?

4. Have you ever ridden a horse or other animal?

5. What did you like about your previous school/job?

6 How long have you studied English? Why did you decide to study English?

7. Which countries did you visit last year? Which did you like the most and why?

8. Have you ever met anyone famous?

9. Did you have a hero when you were younger?

10. What is the most unusual food you have ever eaten?

11. What did you eat for breakfast?

12. Did you like reading when you were a kid?

13. What’s the most interesting movie you’ve ever seen?

14. When did you eat dinner yesterday? What did you eat?

15. Have you ever broken a bone? How did it happen?

16. What didn’t you like to do when you were younger? Why?

Other resources

ESL Speaking Activity: Conditional Discussion Questions

What? When? Where? Asking Questions ESL Activity

32 Inspirational And Creative Job Interview Questions For ESL/Business English Students

No Time? 10 No-prep ESL Activities, Warm-ups and Energizers

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