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:


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.


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.





Thanks. I understand it now.

I don´t understand why we do not use the present perfect with an adverbial which refers to past time which is finished:
I have seen that film (yesterday).
Tanks in advance.

Hello Ricardo A,

In the end, this is just how the English verbal system works. But iti might help to think that the present perfect refers to a time that we consider has some connection to the present. In English, 'yesterday' implies there is no connection to the present -- this is why using the present perfect with it doesn't make sense.

I hope this helps you!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir Kirk, thank you very much!

Sometimes we use" have" with third person singular to show the possession?
Everyone have the right to education
Who have we got in the next round?
Who have ye arranged to meet later on?
Who have they come over for dinner?
here we use Have with Who?

Does he have the football?
Can she have the pen, please?
Would she have scored if she had taken the penalty?

Hello Najid Ali,

The first sentence is not correct -- it should be 'Everyone has the right ...', since a singular verb is used after 'everyone'.

In the next three, 'have' is an auxiliary verb and the subject is not 'who', but rather 'we', 'you' and 'they'.

In the last three sentences, 'have' is in the bare infinitive form because each sentence has an auxiliary verb ('does', 'can' and 'would').

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I am still confused about last three sentences could you explain theme further?

Hello Najid Ali,

I'd suggest you read through our present simple page, especially the Questions and negatives section, where it will explain how 'do' (or 'does') is used as an auxiliary verb. 'can' is discussed on this page and our questions and negatives page will also be useful, I think.

In the first of the last three sentences, for example, 'does' is the auxiliary verb, 'he' is the subject and 'have' is the bare infinitive form. Because 'does' is used, the main verb ('have') goes in the bare infinitive form.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I'm presently brushing up my grammar in particular to verb tenses because i always get confused with the verb tenses. While I am studying the past perfect, there is an example given that is really confusing for me. This is the example " I was really surprised when lisa cut her hair. She had had a long hair since I met her". My question is that is it possible if I switch the tense of the verb to present tense " i am surprised when liza has cut her hair. She have had a long hair since we met." Another question for the last part of my sentence in present tense "she have had a long hair since we met" could I use past perfect had had instead of have had because her hair is short already whereas if I use have had this can mean that until now she has a long hair. Please help me. Thank you very much