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, 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

Hi,

I have a family
I have got a family

need clariifcation on
the difference
what are the possible instances where we can use above examples seperately?

Thanks

Hi Nisala Jayasuriya,

There is no difference in meaning between the two sentences you ask about -- 'have' and 'have got' mean the same thing, though there are some cases where 'have got' can not be used. Please see this page for a more detailed explanation. If you have any other questions, please let us know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!
Could you guys please answer me a question. Is this sentence correct?
It feel as tough I had been reading this book forever and I'm only on page 100.
Thanks.

Hi Jamm,

Your sentence is almost correct! You just need to change it to 'It feels as though I have been reading ...' (the rest is correct).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I’d like to ask which one is correct:
Since Martha left the country a year ago, she (has/had) called her friends several times.
Thank you in advance.

Hi Callista,

The word 'ago' in the first clause of this sentence establishes a reference point in the present -- in other words, it suggests that Martha is here now. Therefore the verb in the second clause should be 'has called'.

If the first clause had a past reference point (e.g. 'Since Marth had left the country'), then the past perfect form 'had called' would be the correct one.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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