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Perfect aspect


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




This is the day which taught me 'What is the most precious gift in this world". Yes, that is your friendship. This the actual sentence Sir.

Hi again simbu

I can't say for sure without knowing the context or writer's intentions, but if I understand this correctly, I'd recommend:

Today I've learned what the most precious gift in this world is -- your friendship.

The sentence as you mention it is more or less intelligible, but the quotation marks seem to confuse the matter, as they don't indicate direct speech. And in general, simpler is better, which is why my suggestion is a bit shorter.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi , this my sentenc
"she has studied for exam.
He has played football since 2years.
My brother had got a baby for 3 monthes
My sister had been worked since 6y ears
He has been writing books since 10 years.
I can coocking today,I'll have studied right now.
-If she call me in a right moment, i would have called her
-She didn't bring a cake ,she might have forgetten about it.
-Yasterday i didn't doing will in my exam, i shoud have studied more.
-She not here, she must have come by now
-I will travel next week, but i shoud have fished my exam by then.
Is my sentenc correct?

Hello wedyan,

I'm afraid almost all of those sentences have errors in them.

I think you're trying to do too much at once here. You have many different verb forms on this page, which is designed not to teach all of them at the same time, but as a reference to summarise them for learners who have already studied each of them individually.

My advice to you is to not try to learn so many different forms at the same time. Build your language knowledge up step by step so that you have solid foundations. That way the more advanced forms, such as present and past perfect continuous, will be easier to grasp.


Looking at the level of your language in these sentences I think I would recommend these two series to you:


Each of these combines listening work with language work and I think they will help you to build up your English step by step.



The LearnEnglish Team

ok thank u

Dear sirs,
I am writing an essay. This is my first sentence:
"In India, marriages have been overwhelmingly endogamous."
But I also feel like I have to write it in the present tense:
"In India, marriages are overwhelmingly endogamous."
I would be greatfull if you could help me understand the difference between the two sentences in two different tenses.
Thank you.

Hello cbenglish,

Both sentences are grammatically possible.

The present perfect (have been) tells the reader that this is a practice which has continued up to the present time and suggests (without stating with certainty) that it may be about to change or be in the process of changing.

The present simple (are) does not carry this suggestion.



The LearnEnglish Team

hello peter,does not the present perfect continuous that suggest the action is more temporary? if i say " i have been living here for 2 years" does not that suggest my living is more temporary compared to "i have lived here for 2 years"?

Hello manuel24,

That is correct. In my answer I said 'the present perfect suggests (without stating with certainty) that it may be about to change or be in the process of changing', which means that it may not be permanent/may be temporary. Normally a continuous form would be used, but the verb 'be' is generally not used with continuous aspect.



The LearnEnglish Team

so "have been" in that sentence is not referred to present perfect but to present perfect it?