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

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Average: 5 (2 votes)
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Sat, 11/09/2021 - 10:52

In reply to by Gulnara_BC

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Hi Gulnara_BC,

Good question! Yes, it is correct. The present perfect shows that the time period is unfinished - i.e., 2021 is not over yet, and it is possible for those numbers to change before 2021 ends. The meaning is something like 'so far in 2021'.

It's also possible to use the past simple, as you suggest: 30 workers were seriously injured and 4 workers died. We can also understand those particular accidents as completed events.

Somebody might choose to use the present perfect if they want to, perhaps, suggest to the reader that the situation might get worse before the year ends. Alternatively, somebody might use the past simple if they want to focus on the details of those particular accidents, without considering what may happen in future.

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Wed, 28/07/2021 - 04:43

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Hello Sir, I have question after reading it I got muddled headed. The question is- They never go there if they can help it. I want to ask you It is right ? I am confused to sort the meaning out. If I talk about the phrase "They never go there". It sounds they have not ever gone there. It sounds Present Perfect Tense. I want to ask you, Can we use Present Indefinite Tense to convince a meaning of perfect tense. We usually use Present Indefinite to convince our daily routine, scientific facts and Universal truth that is widely accepted. But, Here,It appears Present Indefinite is giving meaning of Present Perfect. Is it possible. Please elaborate it.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

'They never go there' is what we call the present simple; it is not the present perfect, which would be 'They have never gone there'.

'They never go there' does not necessarily mean they have never gone there; it can mean that they don't go there now, but it's possible they went there in the past.

The only way to know which meaning is intended is to examine the context or ask the person what exactly they mean.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I guess my English on the right way to perfection. LOL!!!! Just kidding. While reading the question I was making up an answer in my mind and when I finally read yours, it was exactly I thought. I love this site!

Submitted by JoAp on Mon, 19/07/2021 - 07:03

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Hello, could you please tell me if these sentences are correct and what the difference in meaning is: 1. Sarah has told me I’m talking in my sleep. I already knew I was. 2. Sarah told me I’ve been talking in my sleep. I already knew I was. 3. Sarah has told me I’ve been talking in my sleep. I already knew I was. And both these same first sentences again, but with ‘I already know I am.’ as the accompanying second sentence. Can “already knew” and “already know” mean the same thing as “already” suggests to having prior knowledge?

Hello JoAp,

All the sentences are correct. The differences are really ones of emphasis,

 

Sentence 1: The information from Sarah is recent; it is still 'news' to you. Speaking in your sleep is still a problem/issue.

 

Sentence 2: The information from Sarah is not seen by you as 'news'. either she told you some time ago, or you consider it something not relevant to your present. For example, you may not be interested in acting upon the information – you don't care that you speak in your sleep. The change from I'm talking to I've been talking does not make any difference in this context.

 

Sentence 3: This is a combination of 1 and 2; see the relevant parts of the descriptions above.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Fri, 09/07/2021 - 05:03

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Hello Sir. I have a question regarding article "the" and possessive case of Noun. India's President and the prime minister condoled on Monday. Sir, as far as I know we can rewrite india's president = The President of India. Whenever I study regards the possessive case of noun, I study when we want to show possession of two nouns, for instance, It is Jake and Lilly's House As we know the "House" belongs to both Jake and Lilly. But the question that mentioned above sounds good but in my opinion it spoils the possessive case of noun,because, if we assume "the word 'India' has also possession on the word 'the prime minister' then why we need to write article 'the' before prime minister as we know we can write "India's prime minister = The prime minister of india". As far as I know If we write any possessive case before a noun we know it makes the noun definite. I want to ask you Does the Possessive case "india's" have possession on the prime minister as it has possession on president. Please Elaborate it.
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 09/07/2021 - 06:44

In reply to by Kapil Kabir

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Hello Kapil Kabir,

I think the clearest way to expain this is to compare two version of your sentence:

1. India's President and the prime minister condoled on Monday.

2. India's President and (India's) prime minister condoled on Monday.

 

In sentence 2 the possessive India's refers to both people. It is clear that both the prime minister and the president are Indian.

In sentence 1 the possessive form describes only 'President'. The prime minister could be from India or from another country. We would only know this from the context. The article here must refer to another mention of the prime minister earlier in the text.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team