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

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

Use

We use the present perfect tense:

  • 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.

Note: We normally use the present perfect continuous for this:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It’s been raining for hours.

  •  for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do:

I’ve played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.
I’ve been watching that programme every week.

We often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

They’ve been staying with us since last week.
I have worked here since I left school.
I’ve been watching that programme every week since it started.

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


Note: 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.

Note: and we use never for the negative form:

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

  • for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking:

I can’t get in the house. I’ve lost my keys.
Teresa isn’t at home. I think she has gone shopping.
I’m tired out. I’ve been working all day.

 

 We use the present perfect of be 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 is Maria? I haven’t seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She’ll be back tomorrow.

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

just; only just; recently;

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

or adverbials which include the present:

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

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

WARNING:

We do not use the present perfect with an adverbial which refers to past time which is finished:

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 it to refer to a time which is not yet finished:

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

   

Exercise

Comments

Hello! I have a question about the use of present perfect with periods of time. I know that we can use present perfect to talk about our general experience:
"I've lived in London" (but I don't live there now)
But can we use it in the same way with periods of time?
"I've lived in London for 5 years" (but I don't live there now, I only have such an experience, I moved to a different city 10 years ago).
Or the use of periods of time with present perfect necessarily means that whatever I'm describing has been happening up until the moment I said it?
Hopefully, I managed to pose my question in a clear way. Thank you for your time!
Best regards,
Pavel

Hello LuhacheP,

We use the present perfect to refer to a time period which is in some way unfinished.

This could be our life:

I've lived in London. [in my life and I'm still alive]

 

When we use for or since with the present perfect, it always refer to a time extending up to the moment of speaking. If the time is finished then we would normally use the past simple, but with an implied or stated time reference:

He lived in London for five years (in the 1980s/when he was a child/before he moved to Paris)

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Good afternoon everyone.
I have a small doubt about a simple sentence.
My grandma was born in London. She has been living there since then, and now, she suddenly decided to move to another, smaller city.
Is this correct or should I better say -> She has lived....
Also, another thing, could we say it in the following way:
She lived in London since she was born, and now she is moving/decided to move to a smaller city.

I would appreciate a fast answer.
Thanks!

Hello julialachowicz92

You could use either 'has been living' or 'has lived' in this case, though the continuous form might be a bit better given the change that the second half of the sentence expresses. Though please note that if you say 'now', it would be better to say 'she has suddenly decided' instead of 'she suddenly decided'. This is because 'now' clearly refers to the present time and the past simple generally only refers to a finished past time (though it can be the very recent past in some cases).

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I never saw this dog before yesterday
Or
I have never seen this dog before yesterday .

Which is the correct sentence ? I want to understand the use of " never in the past " vs " never in the present perfect " . Many thanks in advance

Hello Ballou1982

The second one is not correct because the present perfect includes the present moment but this sentence mentions a different time period ('before yesterday') that puts the focus on the past, not the present.

You can say 'I have never seen an opera', which refers to your life up until right now. You could also say 'I had never seen this dog before yesterday' (using the past perfect) to refer to the time before yesterday when you had never seen the dog.

Does that help?

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, could you please clarify if i am correct when use the present perfect tense in this sentence as i am confused as to whether past tense or other tense would be more appropriate ? The sentence just does not sound natural to me. “My brother has applied for that scholarship for months, but he has never suceeded yet.” Thank you

Hello Widescreen,

The present perfect is fine, but I think we would probably use the continuous form to show a repeated action, or else use a verb like 'wait' if describing one action:

My brother has been applying for that scholarship for months, but he has never suceeded yet.

My brother applied for that scholarship, but he has been waiting for an answer for months.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Gentlmen, do you think it would be correct to say 'I still have worked on it non-stop for three months'? Or 'still have done' is not generally used?
Regards, Oleg

Hello gerol2000,

We would not use 'still' here in the sense of continuation (the word can have another meaning). 'Still' describes a defined point in time (such as now), not a period of time (such as three months).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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