The present perfect tense has a number of uses.

 

1 We use it to talk about experience.

  • I’ve worked in 6 different countries.
  • Have you ever been to Australia?
  • She’s won many awards for her books.

When these things happened is not important – the focus is on the action/state, not when it happened.

NB If we say when we had the experience, we must use the past simple.

  • I’ve visited Russia several times.
  • BUT I visited Russia for the first time in 1992.

We can never use the present perfect with a time in the past.

  • I have been to Spain in 2002.

2 We also use the present perfect to talk about things that are unfinished – unfinished states and unfinished time periods.

  • I’ve known him since I was 11. (unfinished state)

I met him when I was 11. I still know him now. The present perfect is acting as a bridge between the past and the present.

  • I’ve had this watch for almost thirty years.
  • We’ve lived here since I was a boy.
  • She’s been to the cinema three times this week. (unfinished time period)

This week isn’t finished yet – she may go to the cinema again.

  • We’ve already had two holidays this year.
  • I’ve eaten too much today.

3 A third use of the present perfect is to show the present result of a past action

  • I’ve lost my keys.

He lost his keys some time in the past but the result – he can’t get into his house – is in the present.

  • John’s broken his leg and he can’t go on holiday.
  • A storm has blown down the telephone lines. We’re stuck here!

 

Exercise

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