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.

 


 

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Comments

Hi All.

I have a doubt.

I can to write "It’ve been raining for hours", or only "It’s been raining for hours".

Regards¡¡¡

Hello davidabdenago,

You need to use the singular form 'is' here because 'it' is a singular form:

It's been raining for hours.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, I have a doubt in the following sentence.
She told me that the dam has broken so water is entering forcibly.
Or
She told me that the dam has been broken so water is entering forcibly.
As per my understanding the former seems correct and if were to use 'been' then an adverbial of time should be used , like ' She told me that the dam has been broken since (morning/yesterday) so water is entering forcibly.

Hello amrita_enakshi,

It's not necessary to use an adverbial of time here, though it's certainly possible. 'break' is an ergative verb, so the first version of the sentence is more common (though the second is also possible).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Peter for comprehensive answer...

Hello Team!
What Tense is more correct in the following example?
Imagine situation: I stand before group of people whom I am going to take on some excursion,and I want them understand that it will be conducted in a way different from anything they have seen before ,so I tell them :
1. Well guys,do you want to take part in excursion you have never been before on ?
2. Do you want to take part in excursion you never was on in the past?
Or both options are possible in this context?,or it depends on what I want emphasize?

Hello Slava B,

You would use the present perfect here as it refers to all of the listeners' lives up to the present moment. However, we would use a different phrase:

Well guys,do you want to take part in an excursion like none you've ever experienced / like none you've ever seen / unlike any you've ever experienced / unlike any you've ever seen?

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi all,

I would like to know how to use present perfect and continuous when I speak. It is not easy in the sentences. Thanks

Hello Victorine,

It's hard for me to explain this in a brief comment. Fortunately, we have a page on the topic of present perfect simple and continuous which should clarify the area for you. You can find that page here. If you have any specific questions after looking at this and trying the exercises then we'll be happy to try to help.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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