Latin American Coffee in Turkey

During my recent trip to Istanbul I saw this sign outside a restaurant. Grammatically, it’s not correct. Can you figure out what’s wrong?


Did you figure out what’s wrong? Need a hint?

The sign uses the past simple tense, but this is not correct.

Ready for the answer?

The present perfect tense should have been used instead of the past simple tense. The sign should read: “Have you tried Latin American coffee?”

[Actually, I’m learning Turkish and they meant to say “Have you tried our Latin American coffee” but that’s not the important point. And, by the way Turkish doesn’t have the perfect tenses.]

Today’s lesson: When and why we use the present perfect tense

We’ll review the usage of the present perfect tense and then you will have a chance to practice.

The error in the coffee sign:

When the sign is in the past simple tense, it sounds as if the person is talking about a specific completed event in the past. If you ask this question to a mother-tongue English speaker, she might be confused and respond, “When? Sorry I don’t understand what event you’re talking about.”

This is because the past simple tense is used to talk about a specific event in the past that is completed.

So it would be fine, for example, to use the simple past if you were at a café and your friend arrived 20 minutes later and looked at your empty coffee cup and asked, “Did you try the Latin American coffee?”

In contrast, what the café wanted to ask on their sign was – at any point in the past (whether last night or last month or two years ago) – did you try this type of coffee? The exact point in time is not important. What is important is whether or not you have tried the coffee at any time before.

To be even clearer, the café is trying to emphasize they have something new. Latin American coffee isn’t popular in Turkey. They know many people haven’t tried it before so they want to highlight this so the person walking by will become interested in trying something new.

Let’s recap before the practice exercise:

Past simple: Use for a specific event in the past.

Present perfect: Use for anytime in the past.

The present perfect is formed with:  the verb have + past participle

(click here for a chart of past participle forms of irregular verbs)

Additional points about usage:

  • The present perfect is often used with ever and never to talk about experiences up to the present.

– Have you ever been to Istanbul? (= at any point in your life)

– No, I’ve never been there but would love to go! (= Up to this point in your life)

  • We also frequently emphasize something that has happened by using already or not happened by using yet.

– The waiter hasn’t brought the bill yet.

– Don’t worry, I’ve already paid it.

Practice exercise

Select the correct form. Type in either the past simple or the present perfect tense.

1. Jen:  your house yesterday afternoon but you weren’t home. (I stopped by / I’ve stopped by)

2. Stan:  Sorry, I was out. to Paolo’s Café. (I went / I’ve been)

3. Jen:  Oh, I love that place!

Stan:  to Paolo’s before? (Did you go / Have you been)

4. Jen: Yes, lunch there two weeks ago. It was great. (I’ve eaten / I ate)

5. their house coffee yet? (Have you tried/ Did you try)

Stan:  No, I don’t like regular drip coffee. I only like espresso drinks, like cappuccino or lattes.

6. Jen:  Well, if you their Latin American coffee you can’t say for sure that you don’t like drip coffee. It’s delicious! (didn’t have / haven’t had)

Stan: Okay, if you think it’s that good I’ll give it a try. Shall we go this afternoon?

Jen: Great idea. It’s a plan, Stan.






11 thoughts on “Latin American Coffee in Turkey

  1. Hany Ibrahim

    I have never understood the present perfect before today. I learned it last year but didn’t understand it. Thanks so much. And, also thank you for the chart with the verbs it is very valuable for me.

  2. Farah

    I have never tried Latin American coffee. However, I like Turkish coffee. Have you ever tried Kopi susu? It is so delicious. It is made with sweet milk. I recommend that you try it.

    1. Maviskye

      I’m not sure if I’ve tried Kopi susu before but I have tried something similar. I think it was Thai coffee. It was an Asian restaurant and the coffee was so thick and rich. It was delicious. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Ranajit

    It’s hard grammar. I haven’t had this grammar. I haven’t learned this grammar before. I must study this grammar more.


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