Level: intermediate

We use perfect aspect to look back from a specific time and talk about things up to that time or about things that are important at that time.

We use the present perfect to look back from the present:

I have always enjoyed working in Italy. [and I still do]
She has left home, so she cannot answer the phone.

We use the past perfect to look back from a time in the past:

It was 2006. I had enjoyed working in Italy for the past five years.
She had left home, so she could not answer the phone.

We use will with the perfect to look back from a time in the future:

By next year I will have worked in Italy for 15 years.
She will have left home by 8.30, so she will not be able to answer the phone.

Present perfect

We use the present perfect:

  • for something that started in the past and continues in the present:

They've been married for nearly 50 years.
She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

  • when we are talking about our experience up to the present:

I've seen that film before.
I've played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.

  • for something that happened in the past but is important in the present:

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

We normally use the present perfect continuous to emphasise that something is still continuing in the present:

It's been raining for hours.
I'm tired out. I've been working all day.

Past perfect

We use the past perfect:

  • for something that started in the past and continued up to a later time in the past:

When George died, he and Anne had been married for nearly 50 years.
She didn't want to move. She had lived in Liverpool all her life.

  • when we are reporting our experience up to a point in the past:

My eighteenth birthday was the worst day I had ever had.
I was pleased to meet George. I hadn't met him before, even though I had met his wife several times.

  • for something that happened in the past and is important at a later 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 started in the past and continued 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.

Modals with the perfect

We use will with the perfect to show that something will be complete at or before 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:

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 the perfect when we are looking back from a point in time. 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.

or 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 mobile phone. She could have left a message.

Perfect aspect 1

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Perfect aspect 2

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Perfect aspect 3

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Comments

What is more correct:

It has been years since I saw John
It has been years since I haven't seen John

Hi.
I don't know that this right area for asking these but i took these sentences above.

She has lived in Liverpool all her life.
She has lived in Liverpool whole her life.
She has lived in Liverpool her life all.

What is the difference in their meaning or what about their correction?
Thank you very much

Hello redream

The first sentence is correct but the last two are not -- neither 'whole her life' nor 'her life all' are correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
Should I have done that?
Should have I done that?
which one is right?

thank you.

Hello sam61

The first one is correct. When there is subject-verb inversion, only the auxiliary verb (in this case, 'should') moves.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

This sentense is correct in use

"He has commented something 5 years ago and it has changed his world."

Note: his comment is still here.
Thx you!

Hello Montri
No, I'm afraid that is not correct. Five years ago is a finished past time -- this means it is a time that has no effect on the present) and so a present perfect (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/present-perfect) form is not correct here. Instead, I would suggest a past simple (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar/past-simple) form: 'He said something five years ago and it changed his world'.
All the best
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Q:Did you hear about Sue?
The answer should be;
1.She has given up her job.
OR
2.She gave up her job.

Thx you.

Hello Montri,
Both forms are possible, depending on the context. I suspect that the first answer is the one expected as an example of the present perfect used for new information, but there is no grammatical reason why the past simple would be incorrect here.
~
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

hello,in the example "I wasn’t feeling well. I must have eaten something bad" the action i must have.." happened before the other action so is not more correct to use the past perfect? so""I wasnt' feeling well.I had to have eaten ..?"

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