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 (56 votes)

Submitted by LE12345 on Thu, 18/05/2023 - 08:54

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In an interview, the interviewer asks me:

The interviewer: Tell me about your work experience:
Me: I worked/ have worked for different companies. The first one, I worked for a factory specializing in cloths, the second one, I worked for a fashion company.

Is either tense good to use here?

Hello LE12345,

I would recommend you use the present perfect for the first sentence in your response, which talks about your experience in general (e.g. 'I have worked for several manufacturing companies'), and then the past simple when you go into details (e.g. 'From 2018 to 2020, I worked for a textile factory and then from 2020 to 2022, I worked for a fashion company'). 

If you are still working for a company at the time of the interview, then I'd recommend saying something like 'I started working for XYZ fashion company in 2020' or 'I have been working at the XYZ fashion company since 2020'.

Good luck with your interview if you have one!

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

In case I'm still working for the company XYZ at the time of the interview would it be incorrect to use the present perfect in that way: "I have worked at the XYZ since 2020" instead of the present perfect continuous? what's the difference? it is an action started in the past but still happening at the present, right? Can you please clear this point? Thank you!

Hello Elisabetta,

It's not incorrect to use the present perfect simple in this case, but normally people would use a present perfect continuous form.

The simple form could communicate different things, but in general it implies some separation between you and the job, as if you view your time there as something already finished, an experience in your life already left behind. 

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by 13Amanda on Sat, 22/04/2023 - 15:16

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Good afternoon Jonathan and Peter,
I would like to thank you once more, since the question I submitted to you had been a sort of haunting me for a long time... You have been so quick in responding to me, as well!
I will certainly come back to you when I have further questions to ask.
Kind regards.

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.