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


Perfect aspect 2


Perfect aspect 3




where people on this website have gone? i'm i the only on it or what? i have been commenting, and asking questions but no one responses , 

i really need help on here please, i check this website everyday to see whether there's a new reply or no but nothing new, anyway, my question is today 
am so confused whether this word (baffle ) is common or used in spoken language or not, or is there alternative idiom people of British use for this expression. 
i really never head from anyone using it. that's what confusing me indeed, thanks so much

Hello rihanna!
I'm sorry it's taken us a little while to get to your questions, but we're a small and busy team. We get lots of comments every day, and we can't always guarantee a reply!
You have actually answered your own question - you say you've never heard anyone using the expression 'baffle'. This will tell you it's not very common! We do use it sometimes, but we also use other expressions - I don't understand being the simplest.
Hope that helps!
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Very useful and easy to learn .thanks

it`s easy to learn english now

i dont understand what is perfective aspect and where we use it can any 1 plz explan me what is perfective aspect in english grammar?

Hello saima khan,
You're on a page full of explanations and examples of the perfective aspect already!  We use perfect forms (past perfect, present perfect, will have etc) to show a connection between one time and another time before it (before a time in the past, before the present etc).  However, it is a complicated part of English grammar, and many languages do not have forms like this.  It's possible that you need to improve your English in other ways before you learn about perfective forms.  It's not possible to do everything at once!
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Miss Saima! My name's Ikrema and I'm also from Pakistan. Perfective form is what we call tenses and I'm pretty sure You too, like every Pakistani, have learnt  tenses in school. The Present Perfect Tense, Past Perfect Tense, Future Perfect Tense etc. If you still have problem with that, you may want to consult some grammar book written by our local teachers where every thing's been explained in Urdu. Hope that helps.

I have a grammar question about verb tenses. I will use an example here:

I have been waiting vs I had waited vs I had been waiting.

What are some definitive grammar rules of when to use these(eg. for a tense such as simple past, it is for an action that happened and ended in the past)?

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question.

Dear Sir,
It is very easy lesson, however I would like to ask about the difference between has done and has been done?
what is the difference between the following two examples:
1. From day to day, our world has been changed gradually from condition to another.
2. From day to day, our world has changed gradually form condition to another.
Khaled Aly