The present perfect is formed from the present tense of the verb have and the past participle of a verb:

The present perfect continuous is formed with have/has been and the -ing form of the verb:

Use

We use the present perfect tense:

  • 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.

Note: We normally use the present perfect continuous for this:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It’s been raining for hours.

  •  for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do:

I’ve played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.
I’ve been watching that programme every week.

We often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

They’ve been staying with us since last week.
I have worked here since I left school.
I’ve been watching that programme every week since it started.

  • when we are talking about our experience up to the present:


Note: 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.

Note: and we use never for the negative form:

Have you ever met George?
Yes, but I’ve never met his wife.

  • for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking:

I can’t get in the house. I’ve lost my keys.
Teresa isn’t at home. I think she has gone shopping.
I’m tired out. I’ve been working all day.

 

 We use the present perfect of be 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 is Maria? I haven’t seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She’ll be back tomorrow.

We often use the present perfect with time adverbials which refer to the recent past:

just; only just; recently;

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey.
We have just got back from our holidays.

or adverbials which include the present:

ever (in questions); so far; until now; up to now; yet (in questions and negatives)

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Where have you been up to now?
Have you finished your homework yet?
No, so far I’ve only done my history.

WARNING:

We do not use the present perfect with an adverbial which refers to past time which is finished:

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 it to refer to a time which is not yet finished:

Have you seen Helen today?
We have bought a new car this week.

   

Exercise

Comments

Hello Sir
In your answer to my question on 4th Nov, under present perfect 'My hands are paining . . .
…'You said ' My hands hurt ' My question is can't we say 'my hands are
hurting' I think we can use continues tense. I check in the dictionary : an e.g. given ' you are hurting me.' My hands are hurting I have been painting
my room. (I have just finished painting)This is my sentence.
Is my sentence correct ? Please let me know.
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Sir
Thank you very much for your prompt reply regarding 'hurt and 'are hurting.'
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

Both 'hurt' and 'are hurting' are possible here and there is no difference in meaning in this context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Thank you for your prompt reply to my last question regarding 'present perfect'
Please let me know which sentence is correct?
'A' is telling 'B' at bus halt. You look tired. Have you been working hard today./Had you been working hard today?/ Were you been working hard today?
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Lal,

Since the time period being talked about here ('today') is still in progress, the present perfect continuous form would be the best one. The past perfect continuous would not be correct in any question about today and the past continuous form would be strange in most contexts. It would imply that B worked hard earlier but now doesn't look tired. But of course A has just said that B looks tired, so it wouldn't make sense to use the past continuous in this specific sentence.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Re:present perfect cont.
Regarding my last question: I have finished painting my room. Now I have a visitor. I am telling the visitor. " My hands hurt; I have been painting my room for five hours. I have just finished painting.
What I want to make clear using the above example is one can use present perfect cont. for one has just finished doing some work I think it is all right to say that but I like your opinion.For e.g The road is wet. It has been raining for sometime but it is not raining now. (completed action but the result is there)
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hi Lal,

In the first situation, the present perfect continuous could be correct if you wanted to emphasise the action -- for example, you were painting for a long time and just recently finished. To be honest, though, I probably wouldn't use the present perfect continuous here. I'd probably say 'I've just finished painting my room and my hands hurt'. Or if you hadn't yet finished painting your room, e.g. there was still one wall to paint but you had finished for the day, then 'I've been painting my room and my hands hurt' would clearly be correct.

In the second case I'd also probably use the past continuous or past simple: 'It was raining for a long time and the road is still wet'. But again, if you want to emphasise the action of raining for some reason (for example, it never rains this time of year but it's rained for the past three days), then the present perfect continuous could work.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
I went through your website under "present perfect" and I would like to know this sentence comes under " past event important at the time of speaking" e.g.
My hands are paining; I have been painting my room for hours. (Now I have finished painting.)
Thank you.
Regards
Lal

Hello Lal,

I think we would say 'My hands hurt' here.

The focus of the sentence is the pain you feel in your hands, so it is clearly a present result of a past activity. The continuous form emphasises to process (the work) of painting, which is appopriate for the context of and it is not clear from that verb form if the painting is finished or not, unless you say this explicitly in another sentence.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
If someone asks me the question. Have you had lunch? Are the following answers correct? Yes, I had/ Yes, I have had or No, I haven't had yet/No I didn't have.
Please let me know.
Regards
Lal

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