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Present perfect

Level: beginner

The present perfect is formed from the present tense of the verb have and the past participle of a verb.

We use the present perfect:

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

They've been married for nearly fifty 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.

We often use the adverb ever to talk about experience up to the present:

My last birthday was the worst day I have ever had.

and we use never for the negative form:

Have you ever met George?
Yes, but I've never met his wife.

Present perfect 1

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Present perfect 2

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  • 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.

Present perfect 3

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Present perfect 4

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have been and have gone

We use have/has been when someone has gone to a place and returned:

A: Where have you been?
B: I've just been out to the supermarket.

A: Have you ever been to San Francisco?
B: No, but I've been to Los Angeles.

But when someone has not returned, we use have/has gone:

A: Where's Maria? I haven't seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She'll be back tomorrow.
 

have been and have gone

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Present perfect with time adverbials 

We often use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to the recent past:

recently just only just

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey.
We have just got back from our holidays.

or adverbials which include the present:

so far     until now     up to now
ever
(in questions)
yet (in questions and negatives)

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Where have you been up to now?
A: Have you finished your homework yet?
B: No, so far I've only done my history.

After a clause with the present perfect we often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

I've worked here since I left school.
I've been watching that programme every week since it started.

Present perfect with time adverbials 1

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Present perfect with time adverbials 2

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Be careful!
We do not use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a finished past time:
yesterday last week/month/year in 2017 when I was younger etc.

I have seen that film yesterday.
We have just bought a new car last week.
When we were children we have been to California.

but we can use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a time which is not yet finished:
today this week/month/year now that I am 18 etc.

Have you seen Helen today?
We have bought a new car this week.

Present perfect and past simple 1

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Present perfect and past simple 2

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Level: intermediate

Present perfect continuous

The present perfect continuous is formed with have/has been and the -ing form of the verb.

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

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It's been raining for hours.
I'm tired out. I've been working all day.
They have been staying with us since last week.

We do not normally use the present perfect continuous with stative verbs. We use the present perfect simple instead:

I've always been liking liked John.

Present perfect continuous 1

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Present perfect continuous 2

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Present perfect for future

We normally use the present simple to talk about the future in clauses with before, after, until, etc.:

I'll keep looking until I find my book.
We'll begin when everyone arrives.

but we can also use the present perfect:

I'll keep looking until I have found my book.
We'll begin when everyone has arrived.

Comments

Hi there,

I hope you are well! I have a question.

In the example of "They've been married for nearly fifty years." Why is there a "been" in the sentence?

Isn't the structure of present perfect is "have/has + past participle"?

Also, how is "have been married" different from present perfect in passive voice?

Best regards,
Billy

Hello Billy,

In this sentence, 'have been' is the verb 'be' in the present perfect tense (active voice) and 'married' is an adjective. If you changed the word 'married' to another adjective (e.g. 'happy'), the structure would be the same. In other words, 'to be married' has the same grammatical structure as 'to be happy'.

It's also possible to use 'marry' as a verb, in which case the word 'married' is a past simple form or a past participle. For example, we could say 'The mayor married them' or 'She married her best friend' (in both of these cases, 'married' is a past simple verb) or 'Today they have been married by the mayor' (in this case, 'married' is the past participle of a passive verb).

When you see the verb 'be' followed by the word 'married', however, it's much more likely that 'married' is an adjective, as we tend to speak more about people's matrimonial status than the actual action of marrying someone.

Does that make sense?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I am having trouble understanding the meaning of " the weather has changed". What i understood is that the weather is changed but we don't know when it did changed. It is a complete action at unspecified time. I tried to form a sentence but I still don't get it. My second question is: what is the difference between the weather has changed and the weather changed?

Hello Fa_tima,

When we say the weather has changed we are saying that is it different now from how it was before. As you say, it does not tell us when the change occurred; only that things are now different.

The weather changed places the change at a specific time. This may be explict (the weather changed that afternoon) or implicit in this context.

We use has changed when we are only interested in the result, not when it happened. We use changed when we are also indicating the time of the change.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Team,
Can I use those below?
1)Plz, tell me until you've done more.
2) don't start it until I've told you.
Thanks

Hello Hello,

2 is correct, but I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean in 1.

Perhaps 'Don't tell me until you've done more'? That's what you would say if the person should remain silent until they have done more.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank You.
1) You've grown.
What does that mean?
Is that a finished or unfinished action?
2) You've grown since the last time I saw you.
What does that mean?
Is that a finished or unfinished action?
3) She's lived with us since last week.
Is it correct?

Hello DaniWeebKage,

The context or our background knowledge often informs what verb forms mean. In 1, the person is bigger now than they were at some unspecified past time, and in 2 since last time you saw them. The present perfect form in itself doesn't suggest an unfinished action, but knowing that people tend to grow (at least until a certain age), often these sentences would suggest an unfinished action.

In 3, and in general when we talk about how long something has been happening, we generally use a continuous form: 'She's been living with us since last week'. This could mean that she's only staying with us temporarily, or it could mean that she'll be living with us indefinitely.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Can we use the two tenses both ?

1 - I have (worked/been working) very hard so far
2 he has big match is on Saturday, so he's already (trained/been training)hard in preparation.

In general, can we use the adverbs already,so far with present perfect continues

Hello Turki123456,

It's unusual (though I wouldn't say impossible) to use the present perfect continuous with 'already' or 'so far' because both of them talk about a period of time that touches the present moment, but doesn't really include it.

In the first sentence, perhaps you will continue working, but you have finished some work before now and it's not clear whether it will continue or not.

In the second, 'already' makes it sound as if he's finished training. If you wanted to say that he began training in the past and is still doing it now, you could say either 'he's been training hard' or 'he already began training hard' to show this.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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