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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


Present perfect 2


  • 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


Present perfect 4


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


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
(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


Present perfect with time adverbials 2


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


Present perfect and past simple 2


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


Present perfect continuous 2


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.


Hello. Today we had a discussion about the use of the present perfect and we had the following sentence:
"- Hams has been to the club with her friends, but she came really early today."
A teacher of English said that it is wrong and it should be:
"- Hams had been to the club with her friends, but she came really early today."
Please, which verb tense is correct and why?
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam

I'm afraid I can't really say for sure because I don't fully understand the sentence. When she 'came really early', does that refer to coming to a different place, or to the club? Which action happened first?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hey, i did get the difference between past simple and past perfect but i still get confused many a time. Please explain

1. over 40% residents
of NCR had said they want to
move to another city because of
bad air quality while 16% wanted
to travel during the period

2.Kejriwal said the air quality had started improving because cases of stubble burning had come down

3 La- den’, that had killed five people in Assam’s Goalpara before being captured a we- ek ago in an operation led by an MLA

4. I spoke to your staff this evening or i had spoken to your staff this evening.

My question is why do we have to use the verb "had" in the above sentences, why cant it be past simple and are these past perfect?

Past simple

3. La- den’, that killed five people in Assam’s Goalpara before being captured a we- ek ago in an operation led by an MLA

Why does there need to be a had in the above sentence


Hello Anubhav

In most cases, including sentences 1-3 above, the past simple can be used in place of the past perfect. The past perfect makes the sequence of events clearer because it clearly shows that one action was performed before others, but often the context or other sentence elements will also make this clear.

I'm afraid I can't really say anything about 4 without knowing more about the context. The past perfect could be appropriate here, or it might not be -- it depends on the context.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team 

I am doing an exercise in the book "Achieve IELTS Grammar" about Present Perfect. In this exercise I have to fill in the correct form of the words. The text is about a guidance of making bread, I don't understand why all of correct words are "present perfect". Here the text:

" Have you ever tried making your own bread? If you haven't, you should. Its not difficult. After you have measured the correct amount of flour and warm water, mix them together in a bowl. You now need to add yeast, salt and sugar. When you have done this, work the mixture with your hands, then leave it i n a warm place for an hour. When it has grown to double the size, work it with your hands again. It should feel dry to the touch if you have followed the instructions correctly. Put the bread mixture into a tin, and leave it for an hour until it has risen up over the top. Finally, when you have heated the oven, bake the bread for about forty minutes."

Please help! Thanks so much!

Hello Ianhuongle.13

There are a lot of other verb forms in this text besides the present perfect, so I'm not really sure which ones you are asking about. In the first sentence, the present perfect is used because it's asking about your life experience -- in your life, have you ever done something. This is one instance when we use the present perfect (see above were it says 'experience up to the present'). In the third sentence, 'have measured' is correct, but so is 'measuring'.

I would suggest you ask a teacher to help you understand all the forms in the text. We are happy to help out with a specific question or two, but I'm afraid we don't explain long texts that don't come from our site.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

I would like to know if this phrase is correct:
We've been to visit Joan in the hospital.

It's not better to say:
We've been to the hospital to visit Joan.

I will appreciate your response. Thank you

Hello Ronald Hall,

Both forms are perfectly fine and there is no difference in meaning.



The LearnEnglish Team

whan I watch movies, especially American movies, I can see that they often use "to be going to" also after "I hope, I think...." rather than "will". Is it correct, is informal, are there any differences? Tks

Hello lalla,

I'm not sure what form you mean exactly. The form hope to be +ing is quite common. Is that what you had in mind? For example:

I hope to be visiting you soon.

It is not limited to informal use and is quite common in both UK and US English. In fact, this form is often used as a more polite way of expressing an intention than I hope I will...



The LearnEnglish Team