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: 4.2 (45 votes)

Submitted by ngoc on Sun, 26/09/2021 - 16:31

Permalink
Hi team, this sentence in the first test " You've got a new car? How long ___ the old one? I chose the present perfect form and it was wrong, but I don't really know why so can you explain it to me. Thank team!

Hello ngoc,

In this situation, we assume that the person no longer has the old car; the idea is that when we get a new car, at the same time we get rid of the old one.

Since we no longer have the old car, having the old car is clearly in the past (no longer connected with the present), and so the past simple is the correct form.

This switch from present perfect to past simple is quite common. Another example:

A: Have you ever been to Vietnam?
B: Yes, I went there last year.

In this case, the frame for A's question is B's lifetime -- that is, the question asks if A has been to Vietnam at some point in their life; since B is still alive, their lifetime includes the present moment.

For B, the frame is the trip they made to Vietnam last year -- a specific past time that is no longer connected with the present.

I hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Sat, 25/09/2021 - 19:06

Permalink
Hello Sir, I got muddle headed while I was studying about the use of Adjective. We know we use Adjective Predictively and Attributively. I have two sentences. 1) The company makes the cars safe. 2) The company makes safe cars 3) This feature makes cars safe. 4) This feature makes safe cars. As we know 'safe' is an adjective in both of these. It describes cars(Noun). I want to know which one is correct and what is difference between "cars safe" and "safe cars" What is difference between the use of an adjective predictively and Attributively? Will the meaning change when we use an adjective predictively and Attributively?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 26/09/2021 - 09:06

In reply to by Kapil Kabir

Permalink

Hello Kapil Kabir,

The difference here is not related to the adjective but to the verb. Make can be used with the sense of 'produce' or with the sense of 'change into':

The company makes safe cars = the cars which are produced are safe

The company makes safe cars = the company takes cars which are not safe and changes them so they are safe

 

In your second pair of sentences only (3) is possible as a feature can change things but a feature cannot produce something from scratch.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Again Hello sir Can it be said" If we use an adjective Predictively and Attributively, it doesn't matter at which position we are using an adjective whatever is it like Predictively and Attributively use. But It depends on verb in each sentence." If I take an example of using an adjective Predictively and Attributively. 1) I'm twenty two years old. 2) I'm a twenty two year old boy. Here, old is an adjective. In 1st it has been used Predicatively and in 2nd it has been used Attributively. Is there any difference in meaning of both these sentences? As you have mentioned above the verbs matters, Is the verb(be) matter in both these sentences?
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 27/09/2021 - 07:58

In reply to by Kapil Kabir

Permalink

Hello again Kapil Kabir,

Most adjectives can be used in both positions; changes in meaning are more related to the patterns associated with particular verbs than the adjective itself. There are some adjectives which are only used in one or other positions (alone and galore cannot be used in the attributive position, for example, while mere cannot be used in the predicative position), but these are quite rare.

 

There is no difference in meaning in your two examples, though the second conveys more information in that it contains a noun which specifies gender, for example.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tony1980 on Tue, 21/09/2021 - 14:26

Permalink
Hi team I have never played football before. This is the first time I ____to play. I’m struggling between present perfect have tried” and present continuous “am trying”. I don’t think present perfect is possible since it refers to a past time till this moment. And because the speaker is saying that this is the first time for him this means that he hasn’t tried it earlier. Can you help me please make a clear understanding. Best wishes Andi
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 21/09/2021 - 15:39

In reply to by Tony1980

Permalink

Hello Andi,

Of those two options, the correct one is 'have tried'. I'm not sure what sort of tense is natural in Albanian (or whatever language you speak), but I know my Spanish and Catalan students struggle with using the present perfect here, because in their languages, a tense similar to the present simple is the most natural.

In English, however, this is a case when we use the present perfect. Instead of thinking of the present perfect as referring to a past time that extends to the present, I'd suggest you think of it as a present time extending into the past. Not sure if that will make sense, but I thought I'd mention it.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk Thanks indeed for your response When did he arrive? Can we say “ when has he arrived? If not , why? Best wishes Andi
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

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

In reply to by Tony1980

Permalink

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,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team