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
Read the explanation to learn more.
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
It's more common in British English to use a present perfect form with just as the present perfect is often used to describe actions which happen immediately before the time of speaking, but the past simple can also be used in some contexts.
The use of the past simple with just is more common in US English, where the present perfect is slightly less common.
You can use either worked or had worked in the example you give. Had worked provides a clearer connection between the two actions and suggests that one influenced the other in some way, but this is context-dependent, of course.
The LearnEnglish Team