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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

Please let me know which among 'Present Perfect' and 'Present Perfect Continuous' tenses is preferable to use.Please provide 'charts' explaining the tenses and their usage in detail, if possible.I would really be grateful to you.

Hello Raashid,
See my reply to magnoly below for more information about the difference between the Present Perfect and the Present Perfect Continuous.
Thanks for your suggestion of charts. I've never seen a good chart of English verb forms, but it might be something worth working on. In the meantime, there are detailed explanations of the usage of English verbs on this site.
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

hello
I've just finished learning this lesson;it's such useful and helpful; I've been confused with these two tenses for i started learning English ; It look more clear than before now ; but I have a question.I see that we use  the present perfect and the present perfect continuous in the same cases ; why then there are two forms to express one time? would you explain me; please?
thank you.

Hello,
The difference between the present prefect and the present perfect continuous is, of course, that one uses the continuous aspect (click on that link to find out more) and the other doesn't.
If you think about it. the perfect aspect also can be used to talk about events at the same time as non-perfect verbs. For example, 'She'd met him before.' (past perfect) and 'She met him last week' (past simple) both talk about the same time, the past.
So the continuous and perfective aspects aren't just about time, they are about the way that an event or situation is described. To describe it in a very general way, the continuous aspect describes something as being in progress and the perfective aspect describes something as being completed.
I hope that helps.
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, i am a new enter. I have an ask to do. Is not the first example wrong?
"they've been married for nearly fifty years" should not it be "they have married for nearly fifty years"?
Please help me to understand.
Thank you for your help

very clear,
thank you all
 

it's easy...
i've got all correct.

I always had problems with Present Perfect, but this English Grammar helped me a lot! Thank you British Council :D

Hello.
Could you give some information on Present Perfect and Past Simple compared, please.
Thank you.

Hello,
Here is a page which compares the present perfect and past simple. If you have any questions after reading it, do ask them.
Best wishes,
Adam
The LearnEnglish Team

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