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.




what is the difference between....its not what it looks like..... and its not what does it look like....

Hello mamun.pony,

The second of these is not grammatically correct.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I know we can use the present perfect in repeated activity.
and I have read this example, I have been in supermarket three times a week.
Is that example correct.
thank you.

Hello nancy,

That sentence does not look a very likely sentence as it stands. You might say:

I have been to the supermarket three times a week already.


I have been to the supermarket three times a week for most of my life.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

and what about this example "I have been to America four times a year" is it correct

Hello nancy,

I have explained this in answer to your question on another page - here. Please do not post the same question multiple times - I'm afraid the answer will not change!

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

thank you,
so I can use been to in regular activities

Thank you so much for your help. I still have a question.
Can we use the present perfect for a finished action because
I saw one book which said that ' the present perfect continuous is used for actions which have been going on very recently. They have usually just stopped. If so, what the difference between these sentences?
1. Her eyes are red. She's been crying.
2. Her eyes are red. She's cried.
1.It's been raining. The street is wet.
2.It's rained. The street is wet.
For " It's been raining. The street is wet.", is it that right that it is still raining now or the rain stops.

Please, help me. I really appreciate it.

Hello Sokhom Kim,

As you have seen from the page to which I linked, the present perfect continuous have several aspects to its meaning and not all are concrete either/or choices - some are questions of emphasis. Both the present perfect continuous and the present perfect simple can be used for unfinished past, but the emphasis is different:

I've lived in Spain for ten years.

I've been living in Spain for ten years.

Both are unfinished past; both describe the same fact. The difference is emphasis: the continuous form focuses on the activity (the process) whereas the simple form emphasises the action (the achievement). It is a subtle distinction and is more the speaker's choice than a quesiton of one being right or wrong, though in some contexts there is a normal choice. Compare:

I've been cutting the onions [and so I'm crying]

I've cut the onions [so they are ready for the meal]

I've been washing the car [and so I'm wet and I haven't made dinner yet]

I've washed the car [so you can take it now]

In the sentences you quote above, both options are correct and would be possible in certain contexts. The first one in each pair (the continuous option) is more likely in most contexts - it is similar to the 'onions' example above.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you. It is a complex and subtle area.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team