Was or have been? Ran or have run?

When do you say

I was in the hospital.
I shopped at that store.
I ran to school.
I drove across America.

and when do you say

I have been in the hospital.
I have shopped at that store.
I have run to school.
I have driven across America?

A good way to remember is that

  • the first way (“I ran”) is easier, and means an EXACT time, like last night, or at 9:00 pm, or last year.  EASY = EXACT.
  • the second way (“I have run”) is harder.  You say this if you mean some time, but not some exact time.  Remember it like “harder to say = harder to remember when”.


👨🏻  I was in school yesterday.   EXACT
👴🏼  Me too.  I was in school yesterday too.   EXACT

👨🏻  I talked to John yesterday.    EXACT
👴🏼  I have talked to him many times.     not exact

👨🏻  I watched TV all day today.    EXACT
👴🏼  I am so busy!   I have not watched TV all week!     not exact

The “hard”, not exact way is also hard because it uses the Past Participle form of the verb. It is the same form like in “the past before the past” lesson.

For some verbs — like was, talked, and watched — it is the same as the “regular” past.
Here are some where the Past Participle is different:

👨🏻  I saw that new show yesterday.   EXACT
👴🏼  I’ve seen it a few times.     not exact <<<  I’ve = I have

👨🏻  I flew to Japan last year.   EXACT
👴🏼  I have flown many times, but I‘ve never flown that far!     not exact

👨🏻  Have you taken your driving test yet?   not exact
👴🏼  I have taken it many times, but have not passed yet.     not exact

👨🏻  Have you eaten at this restaurant before?   not exact
👴🏼  Yes, I ate here last week.     EXACT

👨🏻  Have you eaten yet?   EXACT
👴🏼  Yes, I have eaten.     not exact
👴🏼  I ate at 6:00.     EXACT

👨🏻  I sang at their wedding party.   EXACT
👴🏼  I have sung at some parties too.     not exact

👨🏻  He ran a 5K race last year.   EXACT
👴🏼  He has also run a marathon.     not exact

That last one is tricky!  The simple past of run is RAN, and the past participle is RUN.  🙄

I think it is because many times, the past participle has a U, like:

sing – sang – sung  (present – simple past – past participle)
swim – swam – swum
begin – began – begun
run – ran – rUn



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