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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 DaniWeebKage,

The context or our background knowledge often informs what verb forms mean. In 1, the person is bigger now than they were at some unspecified past time, and in 2 since last time you saw them. The present perfect form in itself doesn't suggest an unfinished action, but knowing that people tend to grow (at least until a certain age), often these sentences would suggest an unfinished action.

In 3, and in general when we talk about how long something has been happening, we generally use a continuous form: 'She's been living with us since last week'. This could mean that she's only staying with us temporarily, or it could mean that she'll be living with us indefinitely.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Can we use the two tenses both ?

1 - I have (worked/been working) very hard so far
2 he has big match is on Saturday, so he's already (trained/been training)hard in preparation.

In general, can we use the adverbs already,so far with present perfect continues

Hello Turki123456,

It's unusual (though I wouldn't say impossible) to use the present perfect continuous with 'already' or 'so far' because both of them talk about a period of time that touches the present moment, but doesn't really include it.

In the first sentence, perhaps you will continue working, but you have finished some work before now and it's not clear whether it will continue or not.

In the second, 'already' makes it sound as if he's finished training. If you wanted to say that he began training in the past and is still doing it now, you could say either 'he's been training hard' or 'he already began training hard' to show this.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Team,
#1Can the Present Perfect Continuous mean
Sth is finished recently?
#2 We mostly use"How long" with the Present Perfect tense. don't we?
#3 A friend is waiting for me to go to school. When I meet with my friend, Should I ask
"How long have you been waiting" or " How long have you waited? Why?
#4 I feel sick because I haven't slept very well and also I've eaten too much the last night.
Is it correct?
#5 My favourite video finally comes out.
After watching it, should I say " I've waited to come out for 5 months" or " I've been waiting"?
#6 I've been working all day. That's why I feel tired. ( It can mean either it is done or it isn't done, Can't it?)
Plz, answer all my questions.
Thank you so much.

Hello Hello,

1) The present perfect continuous can refer to actions that are unfinished or finished. The context will usually make this clear, or the speaker can specify this using other phrases if they choose to. For example, 'I'm tired. I've been working for 10 hours.' Here probably the person is still working. On the other hand, 'Where have you been? Have you been working?' probably is used after the person has finished working.

2) It might be a little more common to use the present perfect simple with 'how long', but it is possible to use it with a continuous form as well (e.g. 'How long have you been studying English?).

3) 'How long have you been waiting?' because the question is more about the activity (of your friend waiting) than about them not waiting any longer.

4) The verb 'have eaten' is not correct since it refers to a time period that is clearly finished ('last night'). It should be 'ate' instead.

5) If it were me, before I watched it, I'd say 'I've been waiting for months'. After I watched it, I'd say 'I waited for months'.

6) Yes, this is similar to 1) above. It's not clear whether the work is finished or not.

I'd suggest you have a look at our Talking about the past page, which presents many of the issues you've asked about here.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,

if I say "I have just got back from work" is it correct?

Hello Melirma1,

Yes, that is grammatically correct. It would be used correctly in a situation where you arrived from work very recently -- probably sometime in the last half hour.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Team,
Could you tell me which one is correct ?
-where have you been yesterday morning?
Or -where were you yesterday morning?
I think past simple is more appropiate because we mentioned a past time.
Also this question:
I was sad when I lost my car.I (have had/had had) it for many years.
I think the present perfect here isn't correct because I no longer have the car while saying so. Is that right?

Thanks

Hello Maya.michael,

As you say, the past simple ('were') is correct in the first sentence because there is a finished past time ('yesterday morning').

 

With the second sentence you are also correct. The present perfect would tell us that you still have the car, which is not possible if you say that you lost it.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you sir,
Could you please tell me which is right here:
1-I'm tired.I.....(didn't sleep/haven't slept) well last night.
Shall I choose the present perfect because it has impact on the present or the past simple because there is a past time?

2-it's nearly lunch time and I...(didn't see/haven't seen)Mike all morning.I wonder where he is .
This makes me a bit confused

Thanks again.

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