Level: beginner

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

We use the present perfect:

  • 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.

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

I've seen that film before.
I've played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.

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.

and we use never for the negative form:

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

Present perfect 1

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Present perfect 2

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  • for something that happened in the past but is important in the present:

I can't get in the house. I've lost my keys.
Teresa isn't at home. I think she has gone shopping.

Present perfect 3

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Present perfect 4

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have been and have gone

We use have/has been 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's Maria? I haven't seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She'll be back tomorrow.
 

have been and have gone

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Present perfect with time adverbials 

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

recently just only just

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

or adverbials which include the present:

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

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

After a clause with the present perfect we often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

I've worked here since I left school.
I've been watching that programme every week since it started.

Present perfect with time adverbials 1

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Present perfect with time adverbials 2

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Be careful!
We do not use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a finished past time:
yesterday last week/month/year in 2017 when I was younger etc.

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 the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a time which is not yet finished:
today this week/month/year now that I am 18 etc.

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

Present perfect and past simple 1

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Present perfect and past simple 2

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Level: intermediate

Present perfect continuous

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

We normally use the present perfect continuous to emphasise that something is still continuing in the present:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It's been raining for hours.
I'm tired out. I've been working all day.
They have been staying with us since last week.

We do not normally use the present perfect continuous with stative verbs. We use the present perfect simple instead:

I've always been liking liked John.

Present perfect continuous 1

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Present perfect continuous 2

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Present perfect for future

We normally use the present simple to talk about the future in clauses with before, after, until, etc.:

I'll keep looking until I find my book.
We'll begin when everyone arrives.

but we can also use the present perfect:

I'll keep looking until I have found my book.
We'll begin when everyone has arrived.

Comments

Hi Lal,

In the first situation, the present perfect continuous could be correct if you wanted to emphasise the action -- for example, you were painting for a long time and just recently finished. To be honest, though, I probably wouldn't use the present perfect continuous here. I'd probably say 'I've just finished painting my room and my hands hurt'. Or if you hadn't yet finished painting your room, e.g. there was still one wall to paint but you had finished for the day, then 'I've been painting my room and my hands hurt' would clearly be correct.

In the second case I'd also probably use the past continuous or past simple: 'It was raining for a long time and the road is still wet'. But again, if you want to emphasise the action of raining for some reason (for example, it never rains this time of year but it's rained for the past three days), then the present perfect continuous could work.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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

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