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Present perfect

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

Hello Sooraj

I'm afraid that is not correct in standard British English. You could say 'has been reduced compared to yesterday's rate' and that would be correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Is it grammatically correct to say "Next year I will have been working for 10 years"?

Hello Ziyad Ossama,

Yes, that is a grammatically correct sentence. It means that you began your working life (i.e. after school) 9 years ago. If you add a place to the sentence then it would describe your working life in that place. For example:

Next year I will have been working in this shop for 10 years.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hey.
Confused about the following sentences:

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

Is it possible to change the tense of the linking verb in the original sentence (1) to the present simple tense (2), and what is the difference in meaning between them?

cheers.

Hello jumairs

Both sentences are possible and mean the same thing, really. In 1, the linking verb looks more to the past (your last birthday) and 2 is looking more at the course of your life (worst day I've ever had in my life), which is present tense since you are still alive, but in the end they're both referring to the same thing, so there is no real difference in meaning.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again jumairs

A: I would not use 2 to express the idea that I saw someone get angry for the first time in the past and then witnessed it again several times before now. I would use 3 instead. 2 has a bit of an unusual framing of the sequence of times and actions and although it's not incorrect, if I wanted to be very clear, I would avoid using it and would use 1 or 3 with other phrases or sentences to make the meaning I wanted to express clear.

B: As you suggest, the second verb should really be in the present perfect. That said, many fluent non-native speakers of English might say 4 as you wrote it. For example, I hear this kind of sentence quite often here in Spain (because that is the grammar in Spanish), but strictly speaking these are not correct. But since it doesn't impede communication, I'd say it's a relatively minor error in contexts where people from different backgrounds are using English as an international language.

C: 5 sounds wrong to me. I would say 3 instead. I'm afraid it's difficult to think of all the different meanings these sentences could have because this involves imagining different situations for each. But from the questions you have asked, I'd say you have quite a good understanding of them. If you have any more specific questions, please let us know.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

What's the difference between the following two sentences:

1. 'Things were not always like this.'
2. 'Things have not always been like this.'

Hello rishi803

It's the difference between the past simple (1) and the present perfect (2). You can find a detailed explanation of this on our Talking about the past page -- please have a look.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I am a bit confused about these sentences and also let me know whether they are correct ..

1 I have seen you as a kid, you were great or i had seen you as kid, you were great
2 You have seen me back in the first semester how i was behaving or you had seen me back in the first semester

Just getting confused about the tenses
Thanks

Hello Anubhav,

Both of these sentences describe finished past time periods ('as a kid' and 'back in the first semester'), so without any other context to suggest that a different form in needed, the past simple is the most likely form:

I saw you as a kid...

You saw me back in...

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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