We use the present perfect to show that something has continued up to the present

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

… or is important in the present:

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

We use the present perfect continuous to show that something has been continuing up to the present:

It’s been raining for hours.
We’ve been waiting here since six o’clock this morning.

We use the past perfect to show that something continued up to a time in the past:

When George died he and Anne had been married for nearly fifty years.

... or was important at that time in the past:

I couldn’t get into the house. I had lost my keys.
Teresa wasn’t at home. She had gone shopping.

We use the past perfect continuous to show that something had been continuing up to a time in the past or was important at that time in the past:

Everything was wet. It had been raining for hours.
He was a wonderful guitarist. He had been playing ever since he was a teenager.

We use will with the perfect to show that something will be complete at some time in the future:

In a few years they will have discovered a cure for the common cold.
I can come out tonight. I'll have finished my homework by then.

We use would with the perfect to refer to something that did not happen in the past but would have happened if the conditions had been right:

If you had asked me I would have helped you.
I would have helped you, but you didn’t ask me.
You didn’t ask me or I would have helped you.

We use other modals with perfective aspect when we are looking back from a point in time when something might have happened, should have happened or would have happened.

The point of time may be in the future:

We’ll meet again next week. We might have finished the work by then.
I will phone at six o’clock. He should have got home by then.

the present:

It’s getting late. They should have arrived by now.
He’s still not here. He must have missed his train.

or the past:

I wasn’t feeling well. I must have eaten something bad.
I checked my cell phone. She could have left a message.

 


 

Comments

Dear sirs,
I am writing an essay. This is my first sentence:
"In India, marriages have been overwhelmingly endogamous."
But I also feel like I have to write it in the present tense:
"In India, marriages are overwhelmingly endogamous."
I would be greatfull if you could help me understand the difference between the two sentences in two different tenses.
Thank you.

Hello cbenglish,

Both sentences are grammatically possible.

The present perfect (have been) tells the reader that this is a practice which has continued up to the present time and suggests (without stating with certainty) that it may be about to change or be in the process of changing.

The present simple (are) does not carry this suggestion.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

why cannot I see my last comment and the others that there was in the first page a few days ago?the first page I saw a few days ago there isn't anymore..

Hello manuel24,

I'm not sure which comments you mean but I'm not aware of any being deleted. Maintenance work is performed on the site all the time, however.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
In this sentence 'It's getting late. They should have arrived by now' what does 'it' refer to. The time we expected them to arrive?
Thanks

Hi seelan65,

The pronoun 'it' in the sentence you ask about is often called a 'dummy subject', because it doesn't really refer to anything. If you follow the link, you can see a fuller explanation of this with a variety of examples.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk.

Dear Mr Kirk
There are some answers confusing me. Could you please make them clear to me. Your answer to fedbet's question ( 9 Sep 15 ) -
Actually, it can be correct to say that, depending on what you mean. If you did indeed finish reading the book, and that it was in the time period beginning last summer and ending now, then it's fine to say it this way. The sentence with the continuous aspect means that you haven't yet finished reading the book.
Later on the page, it was the explanation for the followings.
1). She has lived in Liverpool all her life.
2). She has been living in Liverpool all her life
Explanation - there is no difference in meaning but they differ in emphasis. 1 emphasises the time period whereas 2 emphasises the process of living.

My other question : Is there any other layer of meaning in those sentences.
In sentence 1 - she still lives in Liverpool but she has already planed to move out from the area to somewhere else in the near future.
In sentence 2 - she still live in Liverpool and she has no plan to move out in the near future.
Thanks.

Hi seelan65,

Could you please ask me this question by replying to my response to fedbet? I'm sorry to ask this, but that way the conversation will be much easier to follow both now and in the future. 

Thanks in advance.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
can we use the adverb 'everyday' with present perfect continuous ? For example :
Mr. White has been coming to our house everyday.

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