Level: beginner

The present perfect is formed from the present tense of the verb have and the past participle of a verb.

We use the present perfect:

  • for something that started in the past and continues in the present:

They've been married for nearly fifty years.
She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

  • when we are talking about our experience up to the present:

I've seen that film before.
I've played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.

We often use the adverb ever to talk about experience up to the present:

My last birthday was the worst day I have ever had.

and we use never for the negative form:

Have you ever met George?
Yes, but I've never met his wife.

Present perfect 1

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Present perfect 2

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  • for something that happened in the past but is important in the present:

I can't get in the house. I've lost my keys.
Teresa isn't at home. I think she has gone shopping.

Present perfect 3

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Present perfect 4

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have been and have gone

We use have/has been when someone has gone to a place and returned:

A: Where have you been?
B: I've just been out to the supermarket.

A: Have you ever been to San Francisco?
B: No, but I've been to Los Angeles.

But when someone has not returned, we use have/has gone:

A: Where's Maria? I haven't seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She'll be back tomorrow.
 

have been and have gone

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Present perfect with time adverbials 

We often use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to the recent past:

recently just only just

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey.
We have just got back from our holidays.

or adverbials which include the present:

so far     until now     up to now
ever
(in questions)
yet (in questions and negatives)

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Where have you been up to now?
A: Have you finished your homework yet?
B: No, so far I've only done my history.

After a clause with the present perfect we often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

I've worked here since I left school.
I've been watching that programme every week since it started.

Present perfect with time adverbials 1

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Present perfect with time adverbials 2

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Be careful!
We do not use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a finished past time:
yesterday last week/month/year in 2017 when I was younger etc.

I have seen that film yesterday.
We have just bought a new car last week.
When we were children we have been to California.

but we can use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a time which is not yet finished:
today this week/month/year now that I am 18 etc.

Have you seen Helen today?
We have bought a new car this week.

Present perfect and past simple 1

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Present perfect and past simple 2

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Level: intermediate

Present perfect continuous

The present perfect continuous is formed with have/has been and the -ing form of the verb.

We normally use the present perfect continuous to emphasise that something is still continuing in the present:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It's been raining for hours.
I'm tired out. I've been working all day.
They have been staying with us since last week.

We do not normally use the present perfect continuous with stative verbs. We use the present perfect simple instead:

I've always been liking liked John.

Present perfect continuous 1

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Present perfect continuous 2

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Present perfect for future

We normally use the present simple to talk about the future in clauses with before, after, until, etc.:

I'll keep looking until I find my book.
We'll begin when everyone arrives.

but we can also use the present perfect:

I'll keep looking until I have found my book.
We'll begin when everyone has arrived.

Comments

We have just got back from our holidays.
why we use present perfect
is it has a relationship with the present
and why we use present perfect with adverbials which refer to the recent past
like i just seen
it refer to the recent past
why we don't use past instead it

Hello fdrewaserera,

In the sentence

We have just got back from our holidays

we use the present perfect because we have a past action (getting back) with a present result (we are here now).

We also use the present perfect with just to describe very recent actions which have a relevance (an effect on) the present. A sentence like

I've just seen Joe

is an example of this. The seeing is very recent and it is news which has an effect on the present (I can tell you something about him).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

what the difference between present perfect and present continuous simple in this sentences
i am feeding the neighbour 's cat this week while she is in hospital
i have fed the neighbour 's cat this week while she is in hospital

Hello fdrewaserera,

The first sentence describes an ongoing (repeated) activity over a period of time. Your neighbour is still in hospital and you are still looking after the cat.

The second sentence tells us what you have done up to the present (feeding the cat). Your neighbour is still in hospital but the sentence does not tell us whether or not you will continue to feed the cat in the future (tomorrow and onwards). 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Do you mean that the first sentence expresses even if the neighbor came out of the hospital I will still feed the cat The second sentence expresses when the neighbor out of the hospital will stop feeding the cat.

Hello again fdrewaserera,

That's not quite what I said. Here it is again:

I am feeding the neighbour's cat this week while she is in hospital

This sentence describes an ongoing (repeated) activity over a period of time. Your neighbour is still in hospital and you are still looking after the cat.

 

I have fed the neighbour's cat this week while she is in hospital

This sentence tells us what you have done up to the present (feeding the cat). Your neighbour is still in hospital but the sentence does not tell us whether or not you will continue to feed the cat in the future (tomorrow and onwards). 

 

In both sentences the week has not yet finished.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

But there is a question in a book called find the mistake then write a correct answer
The question is
i feed the neighbour's cat this week while she is in hospital
The answer in this book is have fed
Why the answer is have fed and not am feeding

Hello fdrewaserera

I'm afraid we can't explain why the book provides only that answer. It could be that they did not think of another possible answer, or it could be that the instructions make it clear that only one is correct.

In any case, Peter's explanation above explains the different meanings of these two forms very clearly. I hope it helps you make sense of them.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I have a couple of questions:
(1) Confusion between the present perfect and the simple past

The present perfect form (as compared to the simple past) is not associated with a specific time
e.g. I have driven a car (present perfect) vs I drove a car yesterday
However we see sentences which are deemed correct but don't seem to follow rules
e.g. I drove a car
a specific time period is not mentioned - however this usage seems to be accepted. Please explain under what conditions this usage is acceptable.

(2) Usage of present perfect to describe a certain period in the past combined with the word "for"

(Assuming it is 10 P.M. on the day I studied)
Sentence1: I have studied for three hours from 5 P.M. to 8 P.M.
Sentence2: I studied for three hours from 5 P.M. to 8 P.M.

Are both these forms acceptable? In Sentence2, shouldn't I specify a specific time word e.g. I studied for three hours from 5 P.M. to 8 P.M. last Friday.

Hello Rose Duda

Language occurs in a context. In the case of 'I drove a car', the context would presumably make it clear what time period is being referred to. As for question 2, the present perfect form isn't really correct because if it's 10pm now, 5-8pm is clearly a past time. I would never say sentence 1 in this context; I would use sentence 2.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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