Simple past or present perfect?

To express something that happened in the past, we can use the simple past or the present perfect tense. Basically, both forms are correct, but one or the other is usually preferable.

The simple past …

  • is used for the most part in written language, i.e. newspaper articles and literature.
  • of sein, haben and modal verbs is also used in spoken language.


The present perfect …

  • is used above all in spoken language and in informal texts (i.e. private emails)
  • of sein, haben and modal verbs is only rarely used.