Using the verb go in perfect tenses

Remember that the verb go in English can be translated in many different ways e.g. iść, pójść, chodzić, jechać, pojechać, jeździć, wyjechać, etc.

Prepositions

When you use prepositions you can be describing either a static situation, you stay in one place, or a dynamic situation, you move from one place to another. In Polish, you use different prepositions or cases to show the difference.

Static
Jestem w domu przyjaciela. – I’m at a friend’s house.
Jestem nad morzem. – I’m at the seaside.

Dynamic
Idę do domu przyjaciela. – I’m going to a friend’s house.
Pojadę nad morze. – I’m going to the seaside.

This idea of static and dynamic is also important in English, however, there are some important differences between English and Polish in the way we think about static and dynamic.

Using go with the Present Perfect

The verb go is the only verb in English with two different 3rd forms. We use gone to show than only the journey there has been completed, and we use been to show that the journey there and back has been completed.

gone → wyjechać do i zostać
been → pojechać do i wrocić z

Notice that we are talking about a journey and this means that we use a dynamic preposition.

I have been to America. – Byłem w Ameryce. (pojechałem do i wróciłem z)

Michał has gone to America. – Michał wyjechał do Ameryki (i tam został).

In Polish, when you use byłem, you are describing a static past state and not a journey, so you use the static preposition w. In English, using the present perfect with been or gone ALWAYS describes a journey and we use the dynamic preposition to.

If we want to describe a past (static) state in English, we have to use the past simple and we use a past form of the verb be.

Where were you on Saturday? – Gdzie byłeś w sobotę?
I was in America. – Byłem w Ameryce.

We can also use the past simple to describe a (dynamic) journey, but we then use a past form of the verb go.

Where did you go on Saturday? – Gdzie pojechałeś w sobotę?
I went to Warsaw. – Pojechałem do Warszawy.

Remember that in English we have to be careful and think about whether you are describing a state or a journey. In Polish, you can use być to describe a state or a journey.

Have you been to America? – Czy (kiedyś) byłeś w Ameryce?
Yes, I have.. – Tak, byłem. (pojechałem do i wróciłem z)

Where is Michał? – Gdzie jest Michał?
He has gone to America. – Wyjechał do Ameryki (i tam został).

Where were you? – Gdzie byłeś?
I was in America. – Byłem w Ameryce.

Present Perfect and Past Simple

Past Simple

Positive sentences

For regular verbs, add ed to the infinitive.

cook → cooked

For irregular verbs, you have to learn the irregular forms.

make → made
speak → spoke

Negative sentences

didn’t make
didn’t speak

Questions

Did you make?
Did you speak?

Present Perfect

Positive sentences

have/has + 3rd form

For regular verbs, where the past form ends with ed, the 3rd form is the same as the past form.

cook → cooked → have/has cooked

For irregular verbs, the 3rd form can be the same as the past form, or it can be different, you have to learn the irregular forms..

make → made → have/has made
speak → spoke → have/has spoken

Negative sentences

haven’t made
hasn’t spoken

Questions

Have you made?
Has he spoken?

Present Perfect and Past Simple

In which of the following sentences is the verb kupić being used to talk about a present situation?

1 Cześć kochanie. Kupiłem Ci butelkę wina. Mam nadzieję, że będzie Ci smakowało.

2 Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu.

Sentence 1 is talking about a present situation. You aren’t interested in when the bottle was bought, only that there is currently a bottle of wine which you can drink.

Notice that, even though the verb kupić is in a past form, you are using it to talk about a present situation, there is a bottle of wine waiting to be drunk. You know this because of the situation and/or because the time the bottle was bought isn’t mentioned, it isn’t important.

You could use both of the sentences below and they would mean the same thing – mam teraz butelkę wina.

Cześć kochanie. Kupiłem Ci butelkę wina. Mam nadzieję, że będzie Ci smakowało.

Cześć kochanie. Mam dla Ciebie butelkę wina. Mam nadzieję, że będzie Ci smakowało.

With the Present Perfect we are usually interested in the present result of a past action and not when that past action happened. The Present Perfect therefore usually answers the question – czy coś zrobiłeś?

Cześć kochanie. Czy kupiłeś Mi butelkę wina? – Tak, kupiłem.
Hi Honey. Have you bought me a bottle of wine? – Yes, I have.

Cześć kochanie. Kupiłem Ci butelkę wina. Mam nadzieję, że będzie Ci smakowało.
Hi Honey. I have bought you a bottle of wine. I hope you’ll like it.

Sentence 2 is talking about a past situation. What is important is when the bottle was bought and this information is included in the sentence. Unlike sentence 1 you probably don’t know anything about the present situation regarding the bottle of wine.

Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu. (Czy teraz masz butelkę?)

If you want to know about the present situation, you have to add more information.

Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu. Teraz nie mam bo wypiłem.

Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu. Nie lubię wina i jeszcze jest w piwnicy.

If it is important to know when a past action happened, use the Past Simple. The Past Simple therefore usually answers the question – kiedy coś zrobiłeś?

Kiedy ostatni raz kupiłeś butelkę wina?
When was the last time you bought a bottle of wine?

Ostatni raz kupiłem butelkę wina, chyba dwa lata temu.
I think I last bought a bottle of wine two years ago.

Translate the following sentences and decide which would use the Present Perfect and which would use the Past Simple?

1 Już ugotowałam obiad dla Ciebie.

2 Wczoraj ugotowałam obiad. To twoja kolejka!

3 Kochanie, naprawiłem samochód i możesz teraz pojechać do sklepów.

4 W zeszłą sobotę naprawiłem samochód.

Answers

1 I have just cooked dinner for you.

2. I cooked dinner yesterday. It’s your turn.

3. Darling, I have fixed the car and you can now go to the shops.

4. I fixed the car last Saturday.