Look out for sentences that use either the present perfect or past simple tenses. Their different uses are explained below the text. Don’t forget to enter our Xmas competition! When most people in Britain think of Christmas they think of turkey, Christmas pudding and mince pies, but there have been some big changes to our idea of Christmas over the last 10 years. If you had been in England in the last few weeks, you would have noticed wooden stalls and huts appearing in city centres: People standing around holding steaming cups of hot wine and eating sausages, sweets, gingerbread hearts, crepes, roasted almonds and pastries. If you’d been in Britain in 2000, it would’ve been hard to find these markets, but nowadays they’re in most British cities! But they aren’t actually British: these gatherings of Christmas cheer are actually German Christmas Markets. This long-standing German tradition has become more and more popular in Britain since they first opened in Birmingham ten years ago. German companies realised that the Brits quite like the tradition of standing outside, surrounded by Christmas decorations, eating sausages (Bratwurst in German) and drinking mulled wine (Glühwein) and generally getting into the Xmas spirit. So the markets have been coming here every year to sell their delicious food and drink and help us get ready for Christmas. Birmingham’s Frankfurt Xmas Market (as it is called), celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, offers over 180 stalls of traditional handcrafted gifts, including old-school wooden toys, jewellery, candles and dolls. To add to the unique Xmas sounds and smells, there is also live music every lunchtime and evening from a traditional bandstand. Looking for unusual Christmas presents in London is easy too. One of the biggest Xmas markets is on the Southbank, next to the famous London Eye. Again, it’s a typical German style, open-all-day market, full of wooden chalets and there is even a carousel (or a “merry-go-round” as we call it) for younger visitors. Just like in Germany, they open in late November and run until Christmas Eve (24th December), so you’ve still got a couple of weeks to experience Christmas German-style! But don’t worry, you don’t have to wear Lederhosen to go to one of the English German Xmas markets!
PRESENT PERFECT vs PAST SIMPLE
Present Perfect Simple
In these sentences, the Present Perfect Simple is used to show past changes in a state which have a result in the present time. We are thinking about the past up to the present moment. There have been some big changes to our idea of Christmas over the last 10 years. Meaning – In 2000 the first German market opened. Between 2000 and 2011 people started to think differently about Christmas. We can see the results of that change now. This long-standing German tradition has become more and more popular in Britain. Meaning – The tradition wasn’t popular in the past. It grew in popularity. It is now much more popular than it was. Form – subject + have/has + past participle + the rest of the sentence e.g. German Christmas Markets have grown in popularity over the last 10 years.
In these sentences, the Past Simple is used to show something started and finished in the past. They first opened in Birmingham ten years ago. Meaning – The first day of the markets (when they “opened”) was in 2000. German companies realised that the Brits quite like the tradition. Meaning – The act of “realising” was a point in time in the past (we don’t know exactly when, but sometime around the year 2000 when the markets first came to England). Form – Subject + regular verb + ed / irregular past simple verb + the rest of the sentence e.g. I visited the Christmas markets last week. / I drank a mulled wine.