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




Is it possible and appropriate to use 'since' in a present simple sentence?

e. g. Since 2007 he teaches at school.

instead of:

Since 2007 he has been teaching at school.

Are both sentences ok? I've come across sentences similar to the 1st one on English web pages...
Which one is rgihtt ?

Is there anyone answer to my questions pleasee ??

Hello Source,

As you can see, your questions have been answered.  However, please understand that it can take us some time to answer questions which are posted.  We are a small team here at LearnEnglish and we deal with many comments every day, in addition to maintaining the material on the site and adding new material - and all on a site which is entirely free to use and advertisement-free.  Please be patient after posting a question and we will answer as soon as we are able.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Source,

"Since 2007 he teaches at school" is not grammatically correct in English - the correct version is the second one that you mention. I'm not sure how to explain how sentences like the first one appear on other English web pages - to me, it is completely clear that that sentence is not correct.

since has many meanings, one of which is similar to because. With that meaning, it is possible to use it with the present simple tense, but with the meaning that refers to time, it doesn't work.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much it is clear for me now I knew the other meaning of since as a because but when I see in some sites it is being used for time situation in present simple it is really being confusing. Right now it is clear I think those ones which are in the sites are not correct.

PLease I am very confused
I see that in some places people use the sentences like this
1. Since 2007 up to now she works as a teacher
2. Since 2007 up to now she has been working as a teacher.
Which one is correct ?
Thank you very much in advance..

Hello Source,

The answer to this question is the same as the answer to your previous question, and for the same reasons. Sentence 1 is not correct and sentence 2 is.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir which one is correct?
i had joined as professor in 2012. Or
I joined as professor in 2012.

Hi krriss,

I'm afraid I can't answer that question without knowing the context. I'd suggest you study our pages on the past perfect and past simple (which are the two forms you used here) to learn about the differences about them. Once you've done that, write back with a context for these sentences and let us know which one you think is correct. We'll be happy to confirm or correct what you say!

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

while thanking for the great service you do for English learners, please clarify me on the following.
'the work is finished'
in this, is the function of past participle 'finished' verbal or adjectival? and is the dominant verb/main verb 'is' or 'finished'?