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 (46 votes)

Submitted by 13Amanda on Fri, 21/04/2023 - 15:12

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Good afternoon,
I would like to ask you if the following are correct:
1. I haven't been to a swimming pool for a long time (now).
2. It has been a long time (now) since I last went to a swimming pool.
3. It is a long time (now) since I last went to a swimming pool.
4. It has been a long time I haven't been to a swimming pool (now).
5. It is a long time (now) I haven't been to a swimming pool.
I thank you very much in advance.
Kind regards.

Hello 13Amanda,

Yes, I would say that all of those are acceptable. I think #4 and #5 are the most questionable as I think most people would include 'that' before 'I haven't been...'; without 'that' they sound a little strange to my ear. However, I certainly would not see any of these as incorrect, and you can certainly hear all of these used in normal speech.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by zirthanmawii on Tue, 21/03/2023 - 18:10

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James----- (not/feel) well recently?
Can you help me answer this question, please?
I'm really confusing which tense to use.
I think it's James has not felt well recently because recently is a signal word of present perfect but the correct answer is James has not been feeling well recently.

Hello zirthanmawii,

You're correct that 'recently' is often used with the present perfect. However, both 'has not felt' and 'has not been feeling' are present perfect - one is simple and the other is continuous. So, the question is not 'Do we use the present perfect here?' but rather 'Do we need present perfect simple or present perfect continuous here?"

 

Both forms are possible, but the continuous is much more likely as it emphasises ongoing situations. Not feeling well is generally something that happens over a period of time and is a process rather than a single action.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kafkaramazov on Sat, 25/02/2023 - 14:40

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Hello, your post is very interesting. I want to understand accuracy about this: What's the difference between 'have/has+P.P' and 'have/has been+verb+ing?' Is 'have/has been v+ing' exist to emphasize 'have/has+P.P'?

Hello kafkaramazov,

The two forms here are present perfect simple (have/has + past participle) and present perfect continuous (have/has been + -ing form). We actually have a page devoted to the difference between these two forms with explanations and examples. You can find it here:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/b1-b2-grammar/present-perfect-simple-and-continuous

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rabearabea on Fri, 10/02/2023 - 15:42

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Hello LearnEnglish Team,
Thank you very much for your explanations my questions:
1-" My sister (not be) to college for three days because of cold. (Correct the form of the verb)"
2- " I never tried Chinese food." (State if the sentence is wrong and correct if wrong)"
3- "You look nice. Did you change your hairstyle? (Correct the sentence)"
You kindly explained "We might use the past simple if we simply wish to describe past events." My qestion is that is it acceptable in British English to put these examples in the past simple?

Hi Rabearabea,

Yes, it is, but it depends on the context. For example, I may say "I never tried Chinese food" (past simple) if this is one detail in a past experience that I am telling you about: I visited China in 2015 but I never tried Chinese food. I may say "I have never tried Chinese food" (present perfect) if I am talking about my whole life: I have tried foods from many countries but I have never tried Chinese food.

My comment about American English usage in my previous comment was in relation to example 3, to describe recent a event. American English speakers commonly use the past simple (Did you change your hairstyle?). British English speakers prefer the present perfect (Have you changed your hairstyle?), but the past simple is acceptable too.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Rabearabea on Thu, 09/02/2023 - 11:19

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Hello LearnEnglish Team,
I'm sorry to bother but I need to Know about the credibility of some types of questions like that of the following questions which were given to some EFL students. The only required answer is to put the verb in the present perfect. My question is that is there any possible answer other than the present perfect?
1-" My sister (not be) to college for three days because of cold. (Correct the form of the verb)"
2- " I never tried Chinese food." (State if the sentence is wrong and correct if wrong)"
3- "You look nice. Did you change your hairstyle? (Correct the sentence)"