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Present perfect

Do you know how to use phrases like She's called every day this week, I've broken my leg and Have you ever been to Scotland?

Look at these examples to see how the present perfect is used.

He's been to ten different countries.
I haven't seen her today.
My phone's run out of battery. Can I use yours?
Have you ever dyed your hair a different colour?

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Present perfect: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

We use the present perfect simple (have or has + past participle) to talk about past actions or states which are still connected to the present.

Unfinished time and states

We often use the present perfect to say what we've done in an unfinished time period, such as today, this week, this year, etc., and with expressions such as so far, until now, before, etc.

They've been on holiday twice this year.
We haven't had a lot of positive feedback so far.
I'm sure I've seen that film before.

We also use it to talk about life experiences, as our life is also an unfinished time period. We often use never in negative sentences and ever in questions.

I've worked for six different companies.
He's never won a gold medal.
Have you ever been to Australia?

We also use the present perfect to talk about unfinished states, especially with for, since and how long.

She's wanted to be a police officer since she was a child.
I haven't known him for very long.
How long have you had that phone?

Finished time and states

If we say when something happened, or we feel that that part of our life is finished, we use the past simple.

We visited Russia for the first time in 1992.
I went to three different primary schools.
Before she retired, she worked in several different countries.

We also use the past simple for finished states.

We knew all our neighbours when we were children.
I didn't like bananas for a really long time. Now I love them!

Past actions with a result in the present 

We can use the present perfect to talk about a past action that has a result in the present.

He's broken his leg so he can't go on holiday.
There's been an accident on the main road, so let's take a different route.
They haven't called me, so I don't think they need me today.

Again, if we say when it happened, we use the past simple.

He broke his leg last week so he can't go on holiday.

However, we often use the present perfect with words like just, recently, already, yet and still.

We've recently started going to the gym.
She's already finished season one and now she's watching season two.
Have you checked your emails yet?

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Present perfect: Grammar test 2

Language level

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Hello team,
I've noticed that some adverbs 'just', 'yet' and 'still' are also used in Past perfect.
e.g, She's already finished season one and now she's watching season two.
Why use 'has' in that sentence?
e.g, She'd already finished season one and now she's watching season two.
Could I use "had" instead?
I'm confused about when should I use Past perfect and Present perfect.
Thanks a lot.

Hello Via,

The use of present perfect and past perfect is not related to the adverb; it is related to the context and the action expressed by the verb.

The present perfect describes an action in the past with a present result, effect or relevance.

The past perfect describes an action in the past with a result, effect or relevance later in the past. Note that two past time references are needed here, one earlier and one later.

 

You can read more about these forms on the verbs pages of our main grammar reference section:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/english-grammar-reference/verbs

You'll find links to the perfect aspect there, which I think will help clarify this for you. Look also at the sections focused on talking about the past and talking about the present, and on the present tense and past tense.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I would like to ask you a question.
Is it OK to use sentence given below?
"Why haven´t you arranged it yet? Everyone is waiting for it"
Thanks a lot.

Hello PaviaH,

Yes, that sentence is fine. Well done!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot.

Pls let me know the meaning of these sentences. Thank you.

1. Does he do his homework regularly
2. Has he been doing his homework regularly

Hello Smith,

The first sentence (Does he do...) is a question about the person's normal or typical behaviour.

The second question (Has he been doing...) is a question about recent time. It doesn't tell us anything about the person's typical behaviour, but only about his recent actions.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear team,
I'd like to ask what's the difference between these sentences?
Jonas is a writer.
He has written since he was 18 years old. (Present Perfect)
He has been writing since he was 18 years old. (Present Perfect Continuous)

And also Sir,
How to decide to use whether Present Perfect or Past simple?
Could you tell me some tips?
Thanks a lot :")

Hello DaniWeebKage,

Have you seen our Present perfect simple and continuous page? I believe the explanation there will answer your questions, but if you have any others, please feel to ask us more on that page.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Yes, I've done.
So Present Perfect focuses on results.
Then Sir,
He has played tennis since he was a child. He is really good at it.(Present Perfect)

He has been playing tennis since he was a child. (Present Perfect Contin)
Am I right?
Also, Sir, Correct my sentences plz

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