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 (75 votes)

Submitted by ridhi on Sun, 28/05/2023 - 17:57

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Sir,please help with your valuable feedback for the two sentences mentioned below:

1) She/I lived in Oman twice/many times.

What does this sentence convey:I/SHE is deceased or just the person doesn't live in Oman anymore.

2)He studied hard and became a doctor or He studied hard and have become a doctor.(reference -person is still a practicing doctor)which one would be correct?

Thank you 🙏

Hello ridhi,

In 1, the only thing that is completely clear is that she doesn't live in Oman anymore. It's possible that she is still alive now, but it's also possible that she passed away. Only the context or background information would make it clear.

Out of context, someone might think this sentence implies the woman is deceased because normally when we are talking about life experiences (i.e. the things we have done in our life), we use the present perfect, because we are still alive and there's still room for more life experiences. If we've said nothing else about this woman in our conversation and we say this sentence, the use of the past simple signals that she is no longer alive.

But if you've been talking about how now she lives in Pakistan, for example, or other places she's lived in her life, then 1 would be a simple statement about her past experiences and the past simple would be the correct form.

In 2 it depends on how long ago he became a doctor. If it was in a past time that we regard as finished or not strongly connected to the present, the past simple form is the correct form. Since you say 'this person is still a practicing doctor', it sounds like this is the best choice.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Thank you so much sir for your quick response!
Just one last query from the same question pls.

(Little bit context:at present He is just discussing what he has accomplished in his life with one of his friends who is not a doctor)
as cleared by you i understood the correct form i.e - He worked hard and became a doctor.

Second option :he worked hard and has become a doctor

Is it grammatically incorrect? Is it wrong to combine simple past and present perfect in the same sentence?What exactly it means to the listener?

If you could pls elaborate it.
Thank you!

Hello ridhi,

Yes, when the man became a doctor in the past, 'He worked hard and became a doctor' is the correct form. Even when the man started working as a doctor in the past and still works as a doctor now, we'd use past simple for the verb 'become' because that moment is in the finished past.

'He worked hard and has become a doctor' would be appropriate when he recently became a doctor. We can use the present perfect to report what we regard as news, because the news is a current affair. It doesn't matter how long or hard this person worked in the past; when we say a sentence like this, it shows that we are reporting a relatively recent piece of news, i.e. him becoming a licensed doctor.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

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.