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.




Hello, Could you help me with this? As what I've learnt, we use the present perfect with sentences constructed with 'this's the first/second/third/etc time'; but I sometimes see people use the simple present/present continuous/will with it, for instance, this is the first time they meet or this is the first time he will see her or this is the first time that RA members are being so actively encouraged to trespass. Are they all correct? Thank you.

Hi Natalie,

Strictly speaking, you're right – the present perfect is correct when you're speaking about a discrete event that could be seen as completed in some sense (e.g. 'This is the first time he's eaten pho'), even if the action is still in progress. Although people sometimes use the present continuous if the action is still happening ('This is the first time he's eating pho'), especially if the fact that it is happening is important to them, it is not all that standard to say it this way.

Using the present simple doesn't sound correct to me at all – perhaps there is some context when it'd be appropriate, but I can't think of one – and I'd change 'this is the first time' to 'this will be the first time' if I were speaking about something that is going to happen. 

I hope this helps you.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I would like to ask, how we could identify what is the appropriate tense (present perfect or continues)?
In my curriculum I need to choose only one tense in (choose the appropriate tense to complete this phrase)

Confused between present perfect and present perfect continous. Can you give us more details please?

Hello Eya,

Please take a look at the page in our Quick Grammar that explains this topic.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I see "lately, so far" used with a simple present? Why?
He seems to be happy lately.
So far the game is very tight.

Hello akatsuki,

'seem' is not typically used in the continuous aspect, so the present simple makes sense in the first sentence, though the present perfect could also be used. The present perfect could also be used in the second sentence, and is often used with 'so far', but the present simple is also possible - the game is still happening in this case.

By the way, you might find it useful to look up words (e.g. 'lately', 'so far') in the dictionary (see the search box on the lower right side of the page) so that you can see examples of them in use.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

In the sentence "Her second album has already sold over five million copies."

Why isn't this passive - the album doesn't sell itself. Thanks!

Hello bendecasa,

Verbs can be divided into two groups:

  • transitive - verbs which have an object ['She brushes her teeth.']
  • intransitive - verbs which do not have an object ['He gets up.']

Some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive - these are called 'ergative verbs' in linguistics - and 'sell' is one of these. We can say:

She sold her house [transitive]


The album sold very well [intransitive]

In the example you quote the verb is intransitive.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team