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

Why i can't say i have been drinking three cups of tea this morning
is it refer to a time which is not yet finished or no

Hello fdrewaserera,

We use the present perfect to describe actions which occur in an unfinished time period, so the present perfect is correct. The problem is the continuous aspect. Your sentence describes completed actions and so the simple form is more appropriate:

I have drunk three cups of coffee this morning.

This sentence emphasises the results of the action: three empty cups and (probably) an alert and energetic person!

 

We would use the continuous form when we want to emphasise the activity rather than the results. For example, if you want to tell people how hard you have been working then the continous is better:

I've been working on this project all morning!

 

On the other hand, if you want to emphasise your achievements then the simple form is better:

I've finished three projects this morning.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I've been watching that programme every week since it started. this tense is given under the heading of present perfect tense to me it seems present perfect continuous tense. can anyone help me what is wrong in it here or I am making mistake to understand it because of adverbial?

Hello salman,

I think there's a little confusion here over the meanings of different linguistic terms. When talking about verbs, we differentiate between tense and aspect. Tense is a change in the verb itself to show (usually) a time reference. In English we have two tenses, which are usually termed past and present, though sometimes past and non-past are used. Future forms such as 'will' are modal verbs just as 'should' and 'must' are modal verbs.

Aspect is different. Aspect describes non-time related features such as permanence, repetition and completion. Aspect is shown by the use of auxiliary verbs like 'have' or 'be'. In English we have two aspects: continuous and perfect.

This means that the present perfect continuous is a tense (present) with two aspects (continuous and perfect), not a separate tense.

You can read more about this on out present tense page:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/present-tense

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Is using present perfect "has appeared" after "since" correct in the following sentence or I must use past simple "appeared"?
"There has been a decrease in the number of applications since the report on environmental pollution has appeared in the newspaper."
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The correct form here is 'appeared'. This is because you are describing a single point in time (past simple) from which the continuing action (present perfect) is dated.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank You.......really nice post.

Hello
"Have you been crying ? Your eyes are red" or Did you cry? Your eyes are red
Which sentence is true?
Thank you

Hello zenghuy

The first one is better. The present perfect form shows that an action that started in the past is still relevant in the present. The fact that the person's eyes are red (present) is connected with their crying (past).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

What if I'm talking about an event in which I lost my keys at some point. In this case it's not really important for the present, should I use simple past?

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