We use the present perfect to show that something has continued up to the present

They’ve been married for nearly fifty years.
She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

… or is important in the present:

I’ve lost my keys. I can’t get into the house.
Teresa isn’t at home. I think she has gone shopping.

We use the present perfect continuous to show that something has been continuing up to the present:

It’s been raining for hours.
We’ve been waiting here since six o’clock this morning.

We use the past perfect to show that something continued up to a time in the past:

When George died he and Anne had been married for nearly fifty years.

... or was important at that time in the past:

I couldn’t get into the house. I had lost my keys.
Teresa wasn’t at home. She had gone shopping.

We use the past perfect continuous to show that something had been continuing up to a time in the past or was important at that time in the past:

Everything was wet. It had been raining for hours.
He was a wonderful guitarist. He had been playing ever since he was a teenager.

We use will with the perfect to show that something will be complete at some time in the future:

In a few years they will have discovered a cure for the common cold.
I can come out tonight. I'll have finished my homework by then.

We use would with the perfect to refer to something that did not happen in the past but would have happened if the conditions had been right:

If you had asked me I would have helped you.
I would have helped you, but you didn’t ask me.
You didn’t ask me or I would have helped you.

We use other modals with perfective aspect when we are looking back from a point in time when something might have happened, should have happened or would have happened.

The point of time may be in the future:

We’ll meet again next week. We might have finished the work by then.
I will phone at six o’clock. He should have got home by then.

the present:

It’s getting late. They should have arrived by now.
He’s still not here. He must have missed his train.

or the past:

I wasn’t feeling well. I must have eaten something bad.
I checked my cell phone. She could have left a message.

 


 

Comments

Hello Sir
Please tell me the two sentences are correct or not. I would like to know whether one can use past tense with present perfect or not. For e.g. My uncle who went abroad has come back. / My uncle who went abroad had come back. ( past simple and past perfect) Is this
grammatically correct or the first one.
thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Lal,

Both of these are correct -- good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Thank you for your reply regarding the three sentences. You said, 'All three are correct.'
Please let me know the following are correct or not.
The hunter who shot an elephant was taken to custody.
The hunter who shot an elephant has been taken to custody.
The hunter who shot an elephant had been taken to custody.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Sir
The two sentences are from your website.
She has lived in Liverpool all her life.
It has been raining for hours. Please let me know if I write the same like given below. are
they correct and give the same meaning. e.g She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It has rained for hours.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

Yes, those sentences are all grammatically correct. Which is better will depend upon your intention and the context in which you use them. The present perfect simple and continuous forms are often both possible and differ not in fact but in emphasis.

We have a page dealing with just this issue. You can find it here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Please tell me whether the following sentence is correct or not.
He is walking to and fro. I think he has been drinking.
Also these two: He is walking to and fro. I think he had been drinking.
He is walking to and fro.( I think) he must have been drinking.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Lal,

The first and third ones are correct.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Teacher,

Which is grammatically correct? I've heard them both but am not sure which is correct. Thank you.

A. I have never done it until now.
B. I had never done it until now.

Hi learning,

Both of these can be correct, but it really depends on the context. We're happy to help you understand these forms if you can provide us with the context or you can also read more about these forms on our present perfect and past perfect pages.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

Let's say I never saw snow all my life. Now suddenly it is snowing, and it's the first time I see snow. Do I say A) I have never seen snow until now, or B) I had never seen snow until now.?

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