You are here

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

GapFillTyping_MTYzMDE=

Present perfect 2

GapFillTyping_MTYzMDU=

  • 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

Matching_MTYzMDY=

Present perfect 4

GapFillTyping_MTYzMDc=

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

MultipleChoice_MTYzMTA=

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

MultipleChoice_MTYzMTM=

Present perfect with time adverbials 2

GapFillTyping_MTYzMTQ=

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

MultipleChoice_MTYzMTU=

Present perfect and past simple 2

GapFillTyping_MTYzMTc=

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTYzMTg=

Present perfect continuous 2

GapFillTyping_MTYzMTk=

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

Finish

Hi Sir,
Good afternoon!

Could you please answer the following question?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The following two sentences are from the article above:
(1) She has been living in Liverpool all her life. (present perfect continuous)
(2) She has lived in Liverpool all her life. (present perfect)

Question: How to decide whether to use the present perfect or the present perfect continuous when we are dealing with a situation or an action which is still continuing?
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kind Regards,

Hi ABHISHEK SINGH,

The difference between present perfect simple and continuous depends on the context. In some contexts, both can be used and the only difference is emphasis: whether the speaker sees the result of an activity as most important or the process of the activity itself. Your example is like this. Both forms are possible, with the simple form emphasising the total length of the activity (This is a fact about her) and the continuous focusing on the activity itself (This is how she has spent her lift).

 

In other contexts the distinction is more fundamental. The continuous might suggest a situation is temporary or unfinished, for example. You can read more about this on our page on the topic:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/intermediate-to-upper-intermediate/present-perfect-simple-and-continuous

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there, I have problem with the usage of been present perfect. For an instance

1)They've been married for nearly fifty years.
2)She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

Why we can't say "She has been lived in Liverpool all her life" instead of sentence number two. I've been bothering with this issue for years. Hope for a good and clear answer.

Hello Sankalpa Fer

In 2 ('she has lived'), the verb 'live' is an intransitive verb. An intransitive verb doesn't have an object -- for example, you can't say 'she lived a war' or 'she lived a difficult time'. (Please note, however, that the verb 'live' can sometimes have an object; just not when it has this meaning.) Intransitive verbs cannot be used in the passive voice. Since 'live' is an intrasitive verb here, 'she has been lived' is not correct.

In 1, the verb is 'have been', the present perfect form of the verb 'be'. Although it looks like it is part of the verb, 'married' is an adjective and not part of the verb. Sometimes when people see the word 'been' they think that it is always part of a passive verb, but here it is not -- it is simply the verb 'be' in the present perfect.

This is a rather difficult topic to explain well in comments, but I hope this helps you understand it a little better. Please don't hesitate to ask more questions about this if you'd like to.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

 

hello BBC
Say, A person has moved from his home country germany to usa and assume i live in usa....
should i ask

How long have you been in Germany? OR
How long did you live in Germany?

which one is correct?

Hello lima9795

Since the person no longer lives in Germany and since you are in the US, you should use the past simple form: 'How long did you live in Germany?' You might want to have a look at our Talking about the past page.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir.
Please help me to solve this problem
I have a doubt regarding to use of 'ever' adverb.
We know that we usually use 'ever' in present perfect tense.
Can we use 'ever' adverb in past indefinite.

Hello Kapil Kabir

Yes, it is possible to use 'ever' with the past simple. You can find a detailed explanation of the different uses of this word in the Cambridge Dictionary.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Sir.

Pages