Simple past vs. present perfect: I learned/have learned it along with basketball from an early age

I am still a bit confused about the proper use of tenses in a longer sentence. It would mean a lot to me if you could explain the difference between past simple and present perfect in a different context:

“Tennis is my favorite sport: I learned/have learned it along with basketball from an early age in New York.”

Looking forward to your reply


Here are my suggestions:

Tennis is my favorite sport. I learned to play it along with basketball from an early age while I was living in New York.

Tennis is a my favorite sport. I’ve been practising it along with baseketball from an early age.


Thanks again, this is a great website.

You’re right, to learn something is a finite action therefore past simple is preferable. I have learned it is better to define the time-frame and adjust the sentence accordingly. I hope that last phrase is accurate since I just realized it after reading your reply. I should only use the past simple tense if it happened long ago?


Thanks a lot for your positive feedback, it’s great to hear you like our site. Since there are 12 tenses in the English language using them correctly can be a complex issue. What you should keep in mind is that we usually use the simple past whenever there is an indicator as to when something happened in the past such as (3 hours ago, last week, in 2014, etc.)

We have lots of exercises covering the correct use of the tenses and you might want to try and answer all the tense related questions starting with this one: Verb Tense Practice (1) - English Test |


Let me add my two cents to what Torsten has stated.

As regards the use of tenses, both past simple and past perfect can be used in a single sentence in which you might want to refer to two activities, one having taken place earlier than the other. In such a situation, you are required to show the first activity (past in the past) in the past perfect tense construction as in the following examples.

  1. When I went to the cinema, the film show had started. (Here, I could not reach the theatre before the film show began)
  2. The thief had run away when the police arrived. (Here again, the police were late, and they reached after the thief left)

Further, you should use only the past simple when the activity is reported as having taken place at a specific time in the past as in the following examples:

  1. The Prime Minister visited the gulf countries last month.
  2. Shakespeare was born in the year 1564.

Thank you for your reply, that’s exactly what I was missing.

I guess it’s the whole “from a time in New York” thing that’s perplexing. “From a young age” can be replaced with “since I was very young” which is ongoing and goes with the present participle. On the other hand, “in New York” is more specific. I have two time frames and only one verb. I also have “along with” stating that one action happens at the same time as another one. That’s three.


Did I say participle? I meant present perfect. Today seems to be my day for not spellchecking properly.


The way I see it, if the question is “when” something happened, the answer is past simple. If the question is “how long since” something has happened, the answer is present perfect. Am I making any sense at all?