Past simple vs. Present perfect

Hi teachers,

Tom [color=blue]went to America for a while but he’s back again now.

Tom [color=blue]has been to America for a while but he’s back again now.

Which one is correct/better? And why?

Thanks in advance


The second sentence is the correct one, Jupiter. Here, ‘has been’ is the present perfect of the verb ‘to go’. You need this tense because Tom is back now.

You would normally say ‘Tom went to America’ if he hadn’t come back yet, if he was still there.

Hi Conchita,

I can’t quite follow this and I have a different view on it.

The first sentence is all right:

This in fact means he went there and stayed there - a complete action over a period of time (for a while)

The second sentence doesn’t quite add up:

The idea of has been to suggests at some time he went to/flew to America but this can’t really be followed by for a while because you can’t in fact go to/fly to a place over a period of time. To make sense this would have to read:

Tom has been in America because this indicates he went there and stayed there and in that case you can use for a while to indicate the period of time.


It’s a lucky thing you were here to put things right, Alan. I should have known that a question that’s not been answered straight away can sometimes be a tricky one. At least for me it can!