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Present perfect

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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 Sir.
Please help me to solve this problem
I have a doubt regarding to use of 'ever' adverb.
We know that we usually use 'ever' in present perfect tense.
Can we use 'ever' adverb in past indefinite.

Hello Kapil Kabir

Yes, it is possible to use 'ever' with the past simple. You can find a detailed explanation of the different uses of this word in the Cambridge Dictionary.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello.
Are the following sentences correct:
I've been to Italy in October
I've gone to Italy in October
Thank you in advance.
Looking forward to hearing from you

Hello Sofiane Der

These sentences are not correct. Since October is in the past, that is, a time period that has no direct connection with the present, the present perfect is not correct. Instead, you should use the past simple: 'I went to Italy' or 'I was in Italy'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

could please clarify the difference
We use the present perfect:
• for something that started in the past and continues in the present:

She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

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.

Hello Auwid

The difference between these two forms is a difference of perspective, that is, how the speakers sees an action or event. I would recommend you take a look at our Present perfect simple and continuous page, where this is explained in more detail. If you have any further questions after that, please don't hesitate to ask us there.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much. I learned a lot from this article, but I have a question or a problem with present perfect and past progressive or continues :

Well, we can use the present perfect to talk about action that happened in the past but still continue to the present like :

I have lived in Cairo for 20 years.

At the same time I can use the past continues for the same purpose :

I was living in Cairo for 20 years.

How can I understand them clearly and when I want to express an action that happened in the past and continue to present Which one should I use ?

Thank you again

Hello eslam_123,

The first sentence (have lived) describes an action which continues up to the present: the speaker still lives in Cairo.

The second sentence (was living) describes an action which is no longer true: the speaker does not live in Cairo any more.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Mr.Peter

It's really helpful explanation and help me to clarify the usage of both of them.

Just to make sure that I understood you clearly :

Past Continues : describe an action that continue in the past, but not now so when I'm saying :

I was living in Cairo for 3 years mean "I used to live in the Cairo but I'm not living now "

I just want to thank you again for this faster replay.

Hello eslam_123,

That is correct. The past continuous describes actions in finished time, while the present perfect describes actions in unfinished time (continuing up to the present).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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