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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


Present perfect 2


  • 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


Present perfect 4


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


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
(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


Present perfect with time adverbials 2


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


Present perfect and past simple 2


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


Present perfect continuous 2


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.


I have another question. On that same movie, one character said:"I always wanted to find them.".My question here is, why didn't the character use have?Because I think that when you say "always'' you mean your life, but his life hasn't ended, so you should use have.

Hello Bruce Wayne,

It's hard to be sure without knowing the context but it may be that the speaker no longer wants to find them or considers it no longer possible.

The speaker would say 'I've always wanted to find them' if they still want to do this or if they have just achieved their goal.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Jonathan R

Hi, I have a question wich I'm not sure if you explained. I saw a movie a few weeks ago, that one of the characters is searching for someone. After losing who they are looking for, the character says: ''I've lost them.''. Why did he say that?

Hi Bruce Wayne,

It's a good example! This use of the present perfect is for something that happened in the past (losing someone) but is important in the present (because the searching is going on now or until recently).

Does that make sense?


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I am still not completely sure what means if sth is important in the present. How do I know if sth is that important so I must use have + past participle?

Hello petrakovacic,

When we talk about present importance in the context of the present perfect, we mean that the action in the past influences the present in some way. For example:

I went to Spain in 2017.

This is a statement about the past. It tells you nothing about the present.

I've been to Spain.

This statement tells you something about the present. It tells you that I have some experience of Spain and can tell you something about it.



The LearnEnglish Team

hello i got a question
what is the diffrence between She has been living in Liverpool all her life.She has lived in Liverpool all her life. both of them specifying the Continuity but what is the diffrence

Hello agasavurann,

The difference is very slight in this context and is really only a question of emphasis. I would say that the continuous form emphasises that the action (living) is ongoing, while the simple form could be used to show that her life in Liverpool is ending and that she is moving away. The simple form effectively summarises what has happened to date; the continuous form suggests an ongoing activity.



The LearnEnglish Team

The turkey _____ for 3 hours.
a) has cooked
b)is cooking
c)was cooked
d)has been cooking

has been cooking is the right answer?