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 (75 votes)

Hello Andi,

By saying 'Your break the flowers every time the ball lands in the flower bed', the speaker is clearly referring to something that happens from time to time -- it's as if it were a habitual action, at least from the speaker's point of view.

In saying 'Stop right now!', they are indeed referring to the present moment right now. But this doesn't mean that all of the sentences after it have to refer to the immediate present. By using the next sentence, they're showing that the ball breaking the flowers happens regularly. The event of the ball landing in the flower bed is regular, but probably hasn't happened just now -- the speaker is trying to prevent it from happening again.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk
Your response was really helpful it really makes sense to me now.

I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten anything for hours.
Isn’t it right to put the perfect continuous here since “for hours” emphasis a duration. The fact that he is hungry is a result or a consequence for not eating for hours.
Best wishes

Hello Andi,

I'm glad you found it helpful.

It's true that 'for hours' usually refers to a duration of time, but here I think the point is more that it was several hours ago that the person last ate. In other words, even though they are referring to not eating over a duration, really what they're referring to is the last time they ate, which was a point in time rather than a duration.

This is a really good example of how people (unlike robots, which at least at this point rely on pattern recognition) choose linguistic forms not just based on other words in a sentence, but on the meaning they want to convey.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 09:18

Hello Sir, I have a question regards "Article+ adjective" Actually, I'm not able to sort out the meaning of these sentence. I am also not able to sort out these Grammarticly. The sentences are - 1) We'll need an extra ten pounds. 2) I've had a very busy three days. If I talk about the phrase " a very busy three days" in 2nd sentence, as far as I know and I've studied regards a noun phrase so far. If we put an singular determine/Article before a noun, it( the noun) must be singular form. But in the 2nd sentence, we know we have used Article "a" for day(noun). But in this sentence, it is used in plural form( DAYS). despite using Article "A" in this noun phrase. Is it possible to use these kinds of structures. If yes, then will the meaning vary ? What will it give meaning? Please elaborate these....
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Tue, 14/09/2021 - 11:17

In reply to by Kapil Kabir


Hi Kapil Kabir,

Interesting question! Yes, those sentences are grammatically correct. The meanings are similar to We'll need ten extra pounds and I've had three busy days.

Why is the article used? It shows that the speaker is thinking of 'ten pounds' not as ten individual units, but as one single unit, all together. That's why the indefinite article is used here - the basic structure is 'We'll need an extra (something)' , and the 'something' is 'ten pounds' (as one unit). Similarly, in sentence 2, the speaker is thinking of 'three days' as a single unit of time.

This structure is often used if the speaker wants to add an adjective to describe that unit. Here are some more examples: The journey was a long three hours / There were an incredible five hundred comments on the video. The structure is article + adjective + number + noun.

Thanks for your question! Please try to post questions on pages relevant to the question. This question would have been good on our Articles page, for example. Thanks :)


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Mon, 13/09/2021 - 16:14

Hello Sir, I wanna ask a question regarding conditional sentences. While I was reading a textbook, I came by it. The sentence is - " If this were to be the case, this conflict would have been long over and every crime against humanity also for that matter could be brushed aside by paying compensation. " The the question that I want to ask is as we know we have conditional sentence if I talk about a structure of conditional sentences The First one 1) If....+....had + past participle, ......would have been + past participle. And the second one 2)If...+ were+......., ......would + be/base form of verb + ......... . If I talk about my question that I've asked you it's structure appears as the first but it sounds as the second one. Is it possible to use this sort of structures. And the second thing that I want to ask is the infinitive. Can we use infinitive after "were". Like 3)If this were the case.... 4) If this were to be case..... Which one is correct Please elaborate these.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 13/09/2021 - 22:27

In reply to by Kapil Kabir


Hello Kapil Kabir,

You might want to refer to our Conditionals 1 and 2 pages, where you can see the structures that are taught in most textbooks and where we mention the mixed conditional. Often English learners get the impression that these structures are the only possible ones, but this is not the case.

I find the sentence that you cite a little confusing. The first part ('if this were to be the case') suggests an unreal present situation, but then it goes on ('this conflict would have long been over') to refer to an unreal past situation that seems to be dependent on the present situation. Perhaps I've misunderstood it, but this doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps I'm missing something here, but that's how I see the sentence here in isolation.

Both 3 and 4 are correct: 'if this were to be the case' is very similar in meaning to 'if this were the case'; both refer to an unreal condition in a hypothetical present or future time. The first form is more formal and makes it seem that this situation is even more unlikely that the second one, but other than that they mean the same thing.

Hope this helps you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Gulnara_BC on Sat, 11/09/2021 - 04:48

Hello! In this sentence below: According to the Trade Union, 29 industrial accidents have been registered in 2021, where 30 workers have been seriously injured and 4 workers have died. I'm struggling with tenses here. Is it correct to use Present Perfect for 'have been injured', 'have died', or it will be correct to use Past Simple for completed actions? Is it the rule of tense sequence that applies here, or just the action taking place in the current year with Present Perfect? Thank you!
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

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

In reply to by Gulnara_BC


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?


The LearnEnglish Team