present perfect


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.




Teachers, why do the below sentences have "have" twice?
- I would have liked to have got a goal on Saturday against my old team.
- I would have loved to have seen Rooney play for England.

The normal sentences: I would like to get a goal and I would love to see....

Hello Dwishiren,

Please see our modals + have, will have or would have and Conditionals 2 pages, where you can find some explanation of the 'would have' form. 'to have seen' and 'to have got' are called perfect infinitives, and are used to refer to completed or unreal past situations. In these cases, they refer to unreal past situations.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear The LearnEnglish Team,

Could you please clarify, which of the following centences is correct and why:
1. Her sister arranged a great party recently.
2. Her sister has arranged a great party recently.

Does "recently" always require the Present Perfect to be used? Are there any exhamples when the Past Simple is used with "recently"?

Many thanks,

Hello Aile,

'recently' can be used with both tenses. The difference is that in 2, you indicate that there is some connection with the present (for whatever reason) and in 1, the idea is that the arrangement is completely done, i.e. unrelated to the present.

If you look up 'recently' in the Cambridge Dictionaries Online searchbox on the right, you can see several example sentences with different verb tenses. And for more on the present perfect vs the past simple, please see the Transport and Travel Scene 2 Language Focus video, where Rob discusses this in detail.

Good luck!

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Why is "has been to" used in the sentences below?
- The genitive has also been called the possesive since one of its function has been to denote the possessor when is referred to by the second noun phrase.
- My wish has been to move to California.

Also, why is the preposition "after" followed by "having"?
- I wonder if there can be anything good after having been terrible.
- After having moved the prefecture, chances to meet friends have decreaded.
- I feel better after having listened K-pop.

I usually say "after + ing verb" in these sentences.

Hi Dwishiren,

This sentence about moving to California has no context, so it's really not possible to say why the present perfect is used there. It is an odd usage, though it is not incorrect.

As you already know, a verb that comes after 'after' and other prepositions goes in an -ing form. 'having moved' is a perfect form of 'moving', which means that it indicates that the action is completed. 'after moving' can mean the same thing, but it doesn't indicate completion as clearly as 'after having moved'. The shorter form is more common in informal speech, and is also used in formal contexts, but the longer is usually only used in more formal situations.

Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team


Thanks, Kirk. Can you explain this sentence? Why use "has been to"?

The genitive has also been called the possessive since one of its functions has been to denote the possessor when is referred to by the second noun phrase.

I usually say "one of its functions IS TO".

Hi Dwishiren,

That doesn't make sense, at least out of context, to me either. I would say the same thing as you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi everybody,

The present perfect is also used with the quite common pattern: "it's the first/second/last time...".
I was thinking it might be added to the list above.


Hi. Teachers.
If you could please tell me which of these two sentences is correct? In case if the second sentence is wrong, why?
1- The snow of the mountains has already started melting.
2- The snow has already started melting of the mountains.