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:

Use

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.

WARNING:

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.

   

Exercise

Comments

Hi,
In the sentence, "He’s covered in dirt; he ............... (work) in the greenhouse all morning", is present perfect a correct choice?
I would choose present perfect because it sounds like a recently finished action (he's still covered in dirt) or even an unfinished one, in which case present perfect continuous sounds even better to me.

What confuses me is "all morning." Is it supposed to represent a defined time in the past, therefore, asking for past tense simple?

Thank you,
Anka

Hello Anka,

The more natural choice here is the present perfect continuous - 'he has been working'. By observing that he's covered in dirt, this sentence connects his recent past activity with his condition in the present moment, i.e. his work this morning ('all morning' can also be seen as indicating duration) to him being covered in dirt.

I hope this helps you!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

Can simple present go with present perfect? Such as in this case:

"Every calorie you burn is a calorie you've lost."

Or should it be "Every calorie you burn is a calorie you lose."

Or are both acceptable?

Thanks in advance!

Hello iamalearner,

Both are acceptable.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,

It is mentioned above that we can use present perfect 'when we are talking about our experience up to the present'. So, will this sentence of mine be correct:

I have not found it useful, yet.

to mean that I'm using/trying/judging something, I haven't finished my assessment, but all the findings till now indicate that the thing is not useful.

Also, just one more thing. If I ask someone to go to a supermarket and later meet that person the same day; can I use this sentence: 'Have you been to the supermarket' (without yet)

Thanks a ton!

Hello adtyagrwl,

Yes, your sentence is great (and correct)! I'd just make one small suggestion: usually a comma is not used before 'yet' in final position.

The answer to your second question is also yes, that is correct. You could use 'yet' if you want to communicate the idea that you think the person should have already gone to the supermarket, but it's not necessary to use 'yet' in this question.

Please note that 'been' can be used instead of 'gone' to indicate that the subject has gone to a place and returned from it. Saying just 'gone' (instead of 'been') indicates that the subject has gone to a place, but not returned. So, for example, let's say you know your friend Priya planned to go to the supermarket. You go to her house to visit her and she is not there. You could ask 'Has Priya gone to the supermarket?' (indicating that you think she might be at the supermarket now) or 'Has Priya been to the supermarket?' (indicating that you think she might have already gone to the supermarket and returned, only to go out again). I hope that is clear, but you can also see more about this on the BBC's page on this topic.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I thank you Mr. Kirk for your help, and extra corrections. I really appreciate that!

Hello,please what the difference between the word 'she's been there before and she has been there before?
I am longing to read your answer.
Thanks.

Hello hazzykoles01,

'she's been' is simply a contracted form of 'she has been' - there is no difference in meaning between these two forms.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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