The present perfect is formed from the present tense of the verb have and the past participle of a verb:

The present perfect continuous is formed with have/has been and the -ing form of the verb:

Use

We use the present perfect tense:

  • for something that started in the past and continues in the present:

They’ve been married for nearly fifty years.
She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

Note: We normally use the present perfect continuous for this:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It’s been raining for hours.

  •  for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do:

I’ve played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.
I’ve been watching that programme every week.

We often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

They’ve been staying with us since last week.
I have worked here since I left school.
I’ve been watching that programme every week since it started.

  • when we are talking about our experience up to the present:


Note: We often use the adverb ever to talk about experience up to the present:

My last birthday was the worst day I have ever had.

Note: and we use never for the negative form:

Have you ever met George?
Yes, but I’ve never met his wife.

  • for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking:

I can’t get in the house. I’ve lost my keys.
Teresa isn’t at home. I think she has gone shopping.
I’m tired out. I’ve been working all day.

 

 We use the present perfect of be when someone has gone to a place and returned:

A: Where have you been?
B: I’ve just been out to the supermarket.

A: Have you ever been to San Francisco?
B: No, but I’ve been to Los Angeles.

But when someone has not returned we use have/has gone:

A: Where is Maria? I haven’t seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She’ll be back tomorrow.

We often use the present perfect with time adverbials which refer to the recent past:

just; only just; recently;

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey.
We have just got back from our holidays.

or adverbials which include the present:

ever (in questions); so far; until now; up to now; yet (in questions and negatives)

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Where have you been up to now?
Have you finished your homework yet?
No, so far I’ve only done my history.

WARNING:

We do not use the present perfect with an adverbial which refers to past time which is finished:

I have seen that film yesterday.
We have just bought a new car last week.
When we were children we have been to California.

But we can use it to refer to a time which is not yet finished:

Have you seen Helen today?
We have bought a new car this week.

   

Exercise

Comments

Hello Sir
I went through your website under "present perfect" and I would like to know this sentence comes under " past event important at the time of speaking" e.g.
My hands are paining; I have been painting my room for hours. (Now I have finished painting.)
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

I think we would say 'My hands hurt' here.

The focus of the sentence is the pain you feel in your hands, so it is clearly a present result of a past activity. The continuous form emphasises to process (the work) of painting, which is appopriate for the context of and it is not clear from that verb form if the painting is finished or not, unless you say this explicitly in another sentence.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
If someone asks me the question. Have you had lunch? Are the following answers correct? Yes, I had/ Yes, I have had or No, I haven't had yet/No I didn't have.
Please let me know.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

The form 'have you had' is a present perfect form and the short answers to any present perfect question are as follows:

Yes, I have.

No, I haven't.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there. Can you explain to me which one is correct?

I am unsure if I have learned anything from the workshop but I definitely made some new friends!

or I am unsure if I learned anything from the workshop but I definitely made some new friends?

Hello Bengbeng,

In general, both sentences are correct. But the first sentence would only be appropriate to speak about a workshop that you recently attended. The second one could be true about one you attended recently or also about one that was more in the past.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I have a doubt with a point of this argument.
So, when you wrote "She has lived in Liverpool all her life" (in the uses of present perfect tense), I've not understood why you used both of present perfect (the simple and the continuous one)...

Hello Christian23,

When we are talking about a situation which began in the past and still continues we have a choice of forms. Both the simple and the continuous are possible. Thus both of these sentences are grammatically correct:

She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.

 

I would say that in the second sentence there is more of a suggestion that the situation may change at some point (she may move out of Liverpool).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

hello, can i use present perfect like this:
"I have tried to contact her for months?" if I tried in the past and still trying to contact her.
Or, is it better to use present perfect continues? if it is so,why? thank you

Hello jiyi,

While both sentences are grammatically correct, the continuous (I've been trying to contact her...) is better in this case as the action is one which is repeated many times over a period of time and this is what you are likely to emphasise.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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