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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

Hello Sir..

The question that I'm going to ask, I don't know it is logical or not.
But I'm curious to know so that I'm asking it.

I have two Asserative sentences
1) Tannu is a girl.
2) I have money.

When we change these sentences in Interrogative sentence.
We write
*1) Is Tannu a girl ?
*2) Do you have money?

as far as I know, Both 'is' and 'have' are main verb in 1 and 2 no questions.
when we change these sentences into interrogative,as I mentioned above,

In 1st question.
'Is' acts main verb and makes a interrogative sentence.
But in the second
'Have' is main verb in 2nd sentence, when we write *2 sentence why we use 'Do' as a helping verb.

Why do we use 'do' as helping verb in sentence *2, although we couldn't use any helping verb in *1, when we make interrogative of sentence 1.
Please clarify sir.
:)

Hi Kapil Kabir,

Sure, let me try to explain. Be is a bit special and different from other verbs. As you noted, it doesn't need a helping verb to make interrogative and negative forms. Among its other irregularities, it has very irregular forms (e.g. am / is / was / were) and, unlike most other verbs, has contracted forms (e.g. I'm, she's). It's very irregular!

Why is it so irregular? That's a difficult question to answer, and I'm not totally certain. But the meaning of be is very basic and important in life, so it is extremely commonly used. We often find that commonly used (i.e. high frequency) words are more irregular than less common words.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, sir
It is very helpful information to understand the question.
Thank you.

Hello, can you help me with these 2 sentences
1. I haven’t bought that car
2. I didn’t buy that car
I find it to be difficult for me to recognize the differences

Hello Khangnguyen,

The difference here is whether the speakers sees the action as finished or as part of an unfinished time period.

The first sentence suggests that the situation might change: the speaker may buy the car, but has not done so yet.

The second sentence implies that the situation will not change: the speaker did not buy the car and does not intend to change that decision.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I’m struggling with this situation
Imagine your friend said sth to you and you couldn’t hear it very well
Will you say:” sorry, i didn’t catch your words”
OR “ sorry, i haven’t caught your words” and could you please explain the differences between those 2, thank you

Hello Khangnguyen,

The standard form here is this:

I'm sorry. I didn't catch that/what you said.

 

We use the past simple here, not the present perfect. This is true of all similar situations with similar verbs (understand/see/hear etc).

We would use the present perfect if we wanted to describe something with reference to our entire lives:

I didn't understand his argument.

I have never understood that argument.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
i have a confusion regarding these sentences.

1) I could save Tannu if I were God.
2) I could have saved Tannu if I were God.

Are both sentences correct?
My teacher taught that both sentences are correct but I think the 2nd sentence is incorrect.

Please clarify sir.
:)

Hello Kapil Kabir,

Both sentences are grammatically correct. The first sentence describes the present or future. The second sentence is about the past. It tells us that it was possible in the past to have saved Tannu, but that it did not happen; Tannu was not saved, though it was possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

This tip is really helpful. Thanks.

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