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

Hi Teacher,

Which is grammatically correct? I've heard them both but am not sure which is correct. Thank you.

A. I have never done it until now.
B. I had never done it until now.

Hi learning,

Both of these can be correct, but it really depends on the context. We're happy to help you understand these forms if you can provide us with the context or you can also read more about these forms on our present perfect and past perfect pages.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

Let's say I never saw snow all my life. Now suddenly it is snowing, and it's the first time I see snow. Do I say A) I have never seen snow until now, or B) I had never seen snow until now.?

Hi learning,

Thanks for giving more context. What first comes to mind is 'This is the first time I've ever seen snow', but you could also say B. In the case of B, the past perfect is referring to the past time before a few moments ago (which also a past time) when you first saw snow.

I wouldn't say A because 'until now' includes the moment of speaking. In the moment of speaking you are clearly seeing snow and yet the verb is negative – so there is a kind of contradiction in the way the sentence is phrased.

I hope this helps you make sense of it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team
 

Hello!
I wonder if we could say 'Someone has already played soccer (or any other games)' .
At the same time, can we say 'I'm playing soccer now.'?
In Japanese, concept of 'play' is 'do' rather than 'act'. So it is very confusing for us to use 'play'.
Your reply would be great help for me to understand English better.
Best regards,
Hiroko Takebuchi

Hello Hiroko,

Both of those sentences are grammatically correct.

When we say 'Someone has already played...' we are talking about some time in the past during the person's life. It tells us that the person has the experience of playing.

When we say 'I'm playing soccer now' we are talking about the current moment - the moment of speaking.

 

Play is most often used in English to describe participating in games (e.g. chess, cards, board games, computer games) and sports involving a ball (e.g. football, billiards, rugby). We use other verbs for different activities. For example, for activities which involve movement or travel we use go (e.g. go skiing, go running, go horse riding, go cycling), while for activities which focus on the use of the body we use do (e.g. do karate, do boxing, do yoga).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
Thank you very much for your clear explanation.
I now understand the meaning of 'play' and when to use.
Very best regards,
Hiroko Takebuchi

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

I once saw the two following sentences in a English grammar book:

1. As our new furniture is going to be delivered on Monday morning I'll have to stay at home to check that it [has not been/was not damaged] during transit.

2. By the time you finish getting ready, we [will have missed] the train!

I thought the actions in square brackets are both mentioned when the spaekers are looking back from future. Then why does only the second sentence use the future perfect form?
Thank you in advanced,
Toan

Hi Toan,

In sentence 1, the time reference for the verb is brackets is the future time when you're staying at home to check the delivery, which is why the present perfect or simple past works there.

In sentence 2, the time reference for the verb is the time that the sentence is spoken, so the future perfect form is correct there.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Have you eaten something today after you have done the worship ?
Now Could I also use past simple for saying the same thing like this (After you did the worship) ?

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