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: 4.3 (26 votes)
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Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Thu, 23/09/2021 - 07:52

In reply to by Tony1980


Hello Andi,

It's possible to say 'When has he arrived?', but in the vast majority of situations people would say 'When did he arrive?' because it could have been recently or earlier. In other words, the point of such a question is that we don't know the time of arrival, which means that from the speaker's point of view, it's at some indefinite time in the past -- hence the past simple.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk Thanks for the response I am leading a busy life these days. I am preparing for my final exams and I am trying to move to my new apartment. How is present continues possible in this passage since he is not preparing for his exams at the moment of speaking but has been preparing for it let’s say since Monday Tuesday... and so on till the moment of speaking because the phrase “ these days” imposes us the perfect continuous along with what I mentioned above. I need your explanation please. Best wishes Andi
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 24/09/2021 - 07:07

In reply to by Tony1980


Hello Andi,

We use the present continuous for actions which are ongoing at the moment of speaking. That doesn't mean the speaker is actually performing the action right now, however.

For example, if I am in the middle of a book I might say this:

I'm reading Moby Dick at the moment.

It doesn't mean I actually have the book in my hands; it means the process is underway (I'm somewhere in the middle and I read it from time to time).


Your examples are similar: the speaker is describing a process which is happening in the current time frame. Your speaker is telling us that they have begun the process of moving (packing up belongings etc) but not yet completed it.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter Thanks a lot for your response She goes abroad every summer. She is going abroad every summer. What’s the difference between these two tenses?? If the first implies a fact or a routine what’s the second implying if it is correct of course??? Next year she plans to go to Peru. Can we use present perfect here “she has planned “ if she has started planning earlier up to now ??? Best wishes Andi
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 27/09/2021 - 08:06

In reply to by Tony1980


Hi again Andi,

it's difficult to be certain without knowing the context, I'm afraid. The simple form is generally used to describe typical or normal behaviour; the continuous form suggests something which is temporary.


You might use the continuous form in your example if, for some reason, you consider the norm to be not going abroad every summer but the person in question has recently changed to start doing this. It's unlikely in this case because the time frame is necessarily years, and actions which cover years are difficult to think of as temporary unless we are talking about something which usually occurs over an even longer time frame such as where we live or work. Nevertheless, the choice is really psychological: whether or not we see the action or think of it as temporary or permanent.


It's also possible to use continuous forms to emphasise that an action is repeated and irritating or not desired: He's always leaving dirty dishes in the sink for people to wash. However, this does not seem applicable in your example.


I don't think the present perfect is likely in your other example as the plan is still current and we are interested in the future sense (an intention) rather than than in the past sense of doing all the organisation. If we wanted the latter we would probably add an adjective like 'already': What do you mean you've bought tickets to Italy? I've already planned to go to Peru!



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team
Sorry for posting in present perfect section but there was no simple present section for me to post .

Stop right now! You break the flowers every time the ball lands in the flower bed.
Why present continuous isn’t possible here as we have the sentence “ stop right now “ which imposes present continuous.
I know that every time imposes a simple present but doesn’t it make it seem like it’s an action happening day after day and not an action happening at the moment of speaking?
Best wishes

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....