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Business English

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ESL Business English - Useful Expressions

Using Tense Appropriately - Using Tense Appropriately


Use simple past tense to describe something that wholly occurred at a specific time in the past:

I graduated from NYU in 1998.

NOT: I have graduated since 1998.

(That's when the ceremony occurred.)


I finished the Hollins project last week.

I have finished the Hollins project last week.

(Specific time)


Use present perfect tense to describe something that has been in effect from a certain point in the past until now. Be careful! Some verbs are used for specific actions; others are used for conditions that cover lengths of time.

I met Mr. Flinders last year at a Convention in Little Rock.

I have met him since last year.

I have known him since last year.

(Specific time)



Use simple present tense to describe facts.

I work for IBS Corporation.

He's a sanitation engineer.

I am responsible for orienting new employees.

She answers company correspondence.

Use present progressive tense to describe ongoing projects.

I am developing new software.

She is teaching the hearing-impaired.

We are building a new mall in East Heights.

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