Present Perfect for the recent past

The grammar of announcing news

Here is my second lesson on the Present Perfect.

The important thing to learn here is the difference between announcing news and telling the story of that news. The first has a present consequence and so needs the Present Perfect and the second is a narrative requiring the Past Simple.

One fascinating aspect of this grammar is what we mean by ‘recent’. It isn’t measured by distance into the past, instead, here, a verb is recent if it still affects the present, if you can construct a present tense phrase describing the consequence of that verb. This contrasts with a narrative, which is—in some way—self-contained.

The ideas about time encapsulated in our grammar were forged a long time ago—long before our notion of time became dictated by the clock. I like to think that the concept of ‘recent’ embodied in the Present Perfect for the recent past is something that has come down to us from the ancients, that ‘recent’ means an action that still affects the present.


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Peter Brook at the Teatro Valle Occupato

A great British director in Rome


Peter Brook is one the great theatre directors of the twentieth century. His 1970 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream made theatre history.

On Friday April 12 at 8pm the Teatro Valle Occupato is screening 'The Tightrope', a documentary about Brook by his son, Simon Brook. The film will be followed by a public debate with Peter Brook.

You can book tickets by sending an email to

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