Present perfect

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? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Average: 4.1 (37 votes)

Submitted by Ayn on Sun, 08/11/2020 - 18:04

Permalink
Hello! Which one is correct? -He has come earlier. -He came earlier. I think that first one is the correct one, but I am not sure. Please answer. I am really confused. :(
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 09/11/2020 - 08:53

In reply to by Ayn

Permalink

Hello Ayn,

The second one is correct. 'Earlier' refers to a completed past time, so the present perfect is not possible. You could use the present perfect with present time reference, but we tend to use a diferent verb in such cases. For example:

He has already come > He has already arrived

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, what about that? A)He has come earlier today. B)He came earlier today. The question is almost the same, but there is today. Today is not over yet. So, shouldn’t the answer be A?

Hello Ayn,

We see 'today' us unfinished time, as you say, but we consider 'earlier today' a finished time period.

He has come to the office three times today.

He came to the office earlier today.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jaspreet on Sun, 08/11/2020 - 14:29

Permalink
I have a doubt regarding this tense. I have to say I had completed my graduation by 2018.(it refers the year I had finished) Or I have completed my graduation.( what about it?) Or I completed my graduation.( as it is finished)

Hello Jaspreet,

All three are possible. The choice depends on the context and your intention - what you want to say and to emphasise.

 

If you are constructing a narrative and your graduation is related to a later past event then the past perfect might be the best choice.

 

If you are describing something in the past which is relevant now and which is perceived as a change, then the present perfect might be suitable.

 

If you are simply stating a fact about the past then the past simple might be your choice.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hamdy Ali on Mon, 02/11/2020 - 15:45

Permalink
Can we ask a question about the following sentence by using How many days did you stay in London? I stayed in London for ten days. Thank you in advance.

Hello Hamdy Ali,

Yes, that question is fine. You could also ask 'How long did you...?'

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Via on Sun, 18/10/2020 - 03:13

Permalink
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