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.



Comments me in these questions.
1. Where have you been?
2. Where have you been before?
3.Where have you been up to now?
Then I answer
1. I'v just been out watching the football match. This answer is for the first two questions meaning that someone asked me on the recent past place i had been before meeting him. am i right? If not what is the difference btn the two questions?
2. I'v been in the laundry washing my clothes. This is the answer for the third question meaning that he asked me for the recent place I'v been till the moment of speakig. Am I right?

I am having a problem understanding the meaning of a sentence that uses the present perfect continuous without stating a period of time (how long, since, for, etc). Can the sentence still indicate that the activity is happening from the past until now if time period is not mentioned? If the time period is mentioned, can the sentence means that the activity was recent or just ended?

I have been looking forward to the holiday.

Does this sentence mean that I am still looking forward to the holiday and that it is not currently the holiday? Or does this sentence mean that I have stopped looking forward to the holiday since I am on hday now? Or can it mean both?

I have been feeling sad.

Does this sentence mean that I am still feeling sad now? Or does it mean that I felt sad before and that I no longer feel sad now? Or can it mean both ??

The reason I am asking this question is that present perfect continus tense is used for an action which started in the the past and is still continuing or for an action which have stopped recently...So how do we get to know that the action has just stopped or is still continuing ??? Kirk sir plz help me out

Please mention the time period till when we can explain past action with with present perfect

Hello preetam saha,

There is no set time period for the present perfect: it can be used for actions which began only recently (I have just read this book) or actions which began an extremely long time ago (The Sun has been shining for over 4.5 billion years). The fact that the action is still ongoing, or has some present relevance or result, is the key, not the length of the action.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Sir I had a look on the page that u reffered me but Sir I m am afraid that couldn't solve my doubt that I had please make simple for me.please explain me from that sentence that I stated

respected sir, could u please answer some of my questions .1st questions that what kind of tense should we use after present perfect tense , is it past or present.for ex i have asked him if he could sing or i have asked him if he can sing.2nd is that you have told that present perfect tense describes something which has happened recently now could you please tell the tome period 1 day or 2 days .and if anything happens it gets over and becomes past then why cant we use past perfect is that we can only use past perfect when some one is dead

Hello preetam saha,

As the present perfect is a present tense, the present simple form 'can' is the form you should use in the sentence you ask about in your first question.

The difference you are working to understand in your second question is the difference between the present perfect and the past simple, which is explained in some detail on our talking about the past page. Please have a look there, and then if you have a question, please feel free to ask it there.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir! would it be correct to say and how?
She has been a native of Liverpool.But now she is in San Francisco..... plis clariy my doubt regarding usage of : has been

Hello Henry,

No, the present perfect is not correct here. You are a native of only one place, the place you were born. Since this person is still alive, the present simple would be used here: 'She is a native of Liverpool, but now lives in San Francisco' (or something similar).

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Please help! Why wasn't a question:"Who won"?(in the game) used in present perfect tence?it seems to me this action has a result with a present:someone is a winner of a game,isn't it?