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 (68 votes)

Submitted by Dr Paul on Wed, 22/06/2022 - 18:01


Dear Sir or Madam,

I thought one shouldn't use the present perfect with a specific date. But in an article in The Economist I've read the following:

"On June 21st, 237 years later, the Supreme Court has come out against the chief author of the Bill of Rights—and Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a “wall of separation between church and state”—in a dispute over a tuition-assistance programme in Maine."

This article is dated 21th June. Does that expain it? Do I have to read "June 21st" as in "today"? In that case, depening on the meaning of "todaty", one can use the past simple or the present perfect, if I'm not mistaken.

Kinds regards,

Dr Paul

Hello Dr Paul,

Yes, that's right. The present perfect works because the article was published on the 21st and so it speaks of a same-day event. We often use the present perfect announce events that we regard as news; sometimes these events occurred a day or two earlier, but the present perfect shows their relevance to the present -- in other words, it shows that we consider them news.

But in this case, it's clearly referring to the same day.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Submitted by HalynaP on Wed, 08/06/2022 - 04:53


Dear LearnEnglishTeam,
I have 1 more question about Past Simple vs Present Perfect. I read on the Internet that the rule that we can use Past Simple or Present Perfect with 'today, this week, etc.' depending on whether we see this time as finished or unfinished applies to American English. And for British English they use only Present Perfect with today, this week, this year, etc. For example, I've played tennis today. (It doesn't matter when exactly I played it, the day is not finished, so we must use Present Perfect.) I've been on holiday this year. (Can I use I was on holiday this year if I'm not going to go abroad again? In British English tests) Would you say that British English and American English differ in this aspect?

Hello HalynaP,

I don't think there is a difference like this between British and American English. It's fine to use the past simple with time markers like 'today' or 'this week' if you consider the action completed and to not have a direct present result. For example:

I ran 10km today. [my running is finished; I won't run any more today]

I've run 10km today. [I might run more later]


I'm a British English speaker, by the way.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HalynaP on Sat, 04/06/2022 - 07:17


Dear LearnEnglish Team,

could you please help me to better understand the rule "We often use the present perfect to say what we've done in an unfinished time period, such as today, this week, this year"?
I've made 3 reports today. I made three reports today.
Is it correct to use the past simple if I'm not going to make any more reports today? And to use Present Perfect if I am planning to continue making more reports?
I interviewed him twice this week. I have interviewed him twice this week.
Is it okay to use Past Simple if it's Sunday evening and it's clear that I will not interview him again this week?

Thank you in advance. I'll be looking forward to your reply

Hello HalynaP,

You could use either the past simple or the present perfect in both of the sentences you ask about. If you see the time in which you were working on reports today as finished, then the past simple form would be fine. You could also use the present perfect then, especially if you think of doing three reports as an accomplishment, i.e. something difficult to do or that you didn't expect to achieve today. If you planned to continue working today, then the past simple would not be a good choice, and with the present perfect you could indicate this more clearly by saying 'so far', for example: 'I've written three reports so far today'.

The principle is the same in the second situation. If you don't plan to interview him any more this week, then either form would be correct, and the past simple would be even more likely on Sunday evening since it's clear the week would be over in most situations.

It sounds to me as if you understand the idea here already, but I hope that helps confirm it for you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for your answer, Kirk.
Yes, I needed confirmation that I understand the difference between the tenses correctly. Because sometimes in grammar books they say "today, this week, this year" - just use present perfect and that's it.
You helped me a lot.

Profile picture for user aymanme2

Submitted by aymanme2 on Thu, 02/06/2022 - 10:19


Hi, sirs.
Hi, moderators.

I came across this sentence:

I 'haven't visited' Sharm for years, so a month ago, I went there with my family.

I think as long as the action, going to Sharm, finished a month ago, the best tense to use is the past perfect, right?

Is using the present perfect OK here?

Hi aymanme2,

Yes, I think the past perfect would express the meaning more precisely and be the better choice. However, I think people do make constructions like this, especially in contexts where accuracy is not strictly important (e.g., informal conversations), since the intended meaning is still clear.


The LearnEnglish Team