The present perfect is formed from the present tense of the verb have and the past participle of a verb:

The present perfect continuous is formed with have/has been and the -ing form of the verb:


We use the present perfect tense:

  • 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.

Note: We normally use the present perfect continuous for this:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It’s been raining for hours.

  •  for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do:

I’ve played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.
I’ve been watching that programme every week.

We often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

They’ve been staying with us since last week.
I have worked here since I left school.
I’ve been watching that programme every week since it started.

  • when we are talking about our experience up to the present:

Note: 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.

Note: and we use never for the negative form:

Have you ever met George?
Yes, but I’ve never met his wife.

  • for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking:

I can’t get in the house. I’ve lost my keys.
Teresa isn’t at home. I think she has gone shopping.
I’m tired out. I’ve been working all day.


 We use the present perfect of be 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 is Maria? I haven’t seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She’ll be back tomorrow.

We often use the present perfect with time adverbials which refer to the recent past:

just; only just; recently;

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey.
We have just got back from our holidays.

or adverbials which include the present:

ever (in questions); so far; until now; up to now; yet (in questions and negatives)

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Where have you been up to now?
Have you finished your homework yet?
No, so far I’ve only done my history.


We do not use the present perfect with an adverbial which refers to past time which is finished:

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 it to refer to a time which is not yet finished:

Have you seen Helen today?
We have bought a new car this week.





Dear Sir,

In scientific papers, we use often the present perfect to talk about previous performed works; however, I think that the past is more appropriate in such situation. Can you give me some clarifications?

Best regards

Hello khalifa2007,

You may well be right, but I can't really say for sure without seeing a specific example. If you'd like to submit an example where you think the past simple would be better and explain to us why you think that is, we'd be happy to take a quick look. Please be sure to include a few sentences of context, which is key when choosing verb forms.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Kirk,

Thank you so much for your response. I will contact you about some examples for more details.


Dear Sir
Thank you for your reply. I would like to ask this question again giving you also the way I would like to write with the finished time.and the present perfect.(2 and 3)
1.Thank you for the letter you sent me.(I am not sure right or wrong)
2.Thank you for the letter you sent me last week.
3.Thank you for the letter you have sent me. (We are talking about the effect in the present of something that happend in the past)
Please let me know again all are gramatically correct or some are wrong.
Thank you.
Andrew international

Hello Andrew,

The first and second sentences are fine. The third one is not correct. We use the past simple here rather than the present perfect because the information (sending the letter) is not new information but a completed action in the past.

If I walk into a room and see for the first time that it has been decorated then I might say 'You've painted the room!' However, if the painting is not news to me - perhaps I have already heard about it, or have seen a photo - then I would not use the present perfect but the past simple: 'You did a good job painting this'.


In your example the person you are thanking already knows the letter was sent; there is no news here. On the other hand, if you were writing to a third person then you might use the present perfect because they would not know about the letter yet: 'I've got a letter from Paul about...'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Thank you for your prompt reply for my last question.
Please let me know the following are right or wrong:
1. our Friend Ship Club has been very active during the last two years. or for the last
two years. 2. Thank you for the letter you sent me. or Thank you for the letter you have sent me.. 3. I have met a lot of people in the last few days.(Can we use 'in the last'?)
Thank you.
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

In 1, 'for' is the best choice and in 2 it's 'sent'. 'in the last days' is not incorrect, but we usually use it to speak about the end of a past time period, i.e. one that has no connection with the present. In this case, there is a connection with the present implied with the verb 'have met', so it sounds a bit odd to use it.

We're happy to help with questions like this from time to time, but please explain to use what you think the correct answer is, and why, so that we can better help you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Would you please tell me whether the sentence given below is right or wrong.?
If it is wrong please correct it.
He was the most extra ordinary man I have ever had seen in my life.
Thank you.
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

'extra ordinary' should be spelt 'extraordinary' and the verb form should be either 'have ever seen' or 'had ever seen', but otherwise the sentence is correct.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! Can I use the continous form for to reflect,to seem,to imagine and to remeber?