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Present perfect

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

Hello> Could you please help me? Which sentences are correct?
1- I haven't seen Ali since last week.
2- I haven't seen Ali since the last week.
3- I haven't seen Ali for last week.
4- I haven't seen Ali for the last week.
Please Why? What are the differences?
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Sentences 1 and 4 are correct.

We use last week to describe a finished period starting on Monday and ending on Sunday - though obviously the days may vary in different cultures.

We use the last week to describe the seven days prior to the day when we are speaking.

 

For example, as I write it is Friday, September the 18th.

If I say last week then I am describing the period starting Monday, September the 7th and ending Sunday, September the 13th.

If I say the last weekn then I am describing the period starting Saturday, September the 12th and ending today (Friday, September the 18th).

 

We do not use the last week with since because the last week is not a finished time period - it goes up to the moment of speaking. Thus sentence 2 is incorrect.

We do not use last week with the present perfect because last week is a finished time period. Thus sentence 3 is incorrect.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
I have a confusion regarding the use of pair "not........ but".

As we know that "not...... but" pair follows same part of speech for example.
I'm opposed to the plan of action not because it is ill conceived but because it seems impractical.

In this example "not....... but" pair follows same part of speech that is "because".
I'm a bit confused using the pair " not only........ but also"

I wanna know why " not....... but" pair doesn't follow same part of speech.
In "not only..... but also" pair. Not follows 'only' and but follows 'also' how it is possible, one side we say 'not........but' pair follows same part of speech, and the other side why we use " not only....... but also" pair with different part of speech.
Please clarify sir.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

I'm afraid I don't understand your question. The two forms are used in exactly the same way, though with different meanings:

I'm opposed to the plan of action not because it is ill conceived but because it seems impractical.

I'm opposed to the plan of action not only because it is ill conceived but also because it seems impractical.

 

If something about this confuses you then please rephrase your question and we'll try to clarify. I think the best approach is to provide an example sentence and ask directly why one version is correct and another not, or why form x is used and not form y.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Could you please help me choose the correct answer? Why?

- She (has been - has gone) shopping. The apples she has bought are fantastic.

I think both are OK.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

Both options are grammatically correct. But there's a small difference in meaning. 

  • She has gone shopping = She has gone out and hasn't come back yet.
  • She has been shopping = She has gone out and already come back.

In this example, we can see that she has brought back apples, so she must have come back already. Has been is the best option.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Jonathan R. Thank you for your reply. You say, "has been is the best option" so "has gone shopping" is not wrong and possible to use in my sentence, right?
Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

The grammatical form isn't wrong. But the meaning is a bit confusing. If we say she has gone shopping, it implies that she has not returned yet. (But actually, she has.)

 

Normally, in any situation, speakers make the strongest true statement that they can. For example, consider these sentences:

  1. He's eaten one piece of cake. 
  2. He's eaten two pieces of cake.

If the situation is that he's eaten two pieces of cake, most speakers would say sentence 2. Sentence 1 is logically true too (because one is less than two, so he must have eaten one first before eating two). But, it's confusing to say sentence 1 in this situation. It implies that I cannot make a stronger true statement than that. But actually, I can: He's eaten two pieces of cake.

 

It's the same difference in the shopping examples. Although logically, saying she has gone shopping does not exclude the possibility that she has returned, if she has actually returned then the speaker is expected to show that. If the speaker only says she has gone shopping, a listener would probably understand that she hasn't returned yet (which is false).

 

So, in an exercise, the answers are clear: has been is correct and has gone is incorrect. But, in real life, if someone said she has gone shopping but I can see the apples that she bought, I think I could work out that she's already returned. But this relies on the listener to do work to work out the real meaning, so it's not the best option.

 

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
I'm not able to decide whether which one is correct but I'm a little sure abot it.
I have two sentences.
1) I have no money.
2) I have not any money.

I just want to known whether both the sentences are equal in grammatical and contextual meaning or not.
My second question is that
Can we rewrite the first question in the form of the second question like
I have no money = i have not any money.

Somewhere I read that 'No' as a adverb gives a meaning equal to 'Not any'

Hello Kapil Kabir,

The first sentence is correct.

No here does have the meaning not any - that is correct. However, the second sentence is not a standard negative. When we use have as a main verb, we negate it with do, just as with other main verbs:

I don't have any money.

If have is an auxiliary verb then it can be negated with not:

I haven't got any money.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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