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.





Hello everyone! I'm so glad that I've chanced upon this wonderful site!
And I have a question on the Present Perfect.
As Peter M. indicated earlier, we use the Present Perfect "to describe a present result of a past action". So let's suppose I bumped into a tree driving in my car a month ago (an action in the past). The car broke down, and it's still broken (a present result). Now earlier today a friend of mine called me and asked if I could give her a ride downtown. So my reply was, "No, sorry, I can't, because I've wrecked my car". My friend hadn't known my car was broken, so that was new information for her. We hadn't seen each other for months, nor had we checked up on one another in any other way.
What do you think of my reply in the Present Perfect?

Hello sweetroll,

Although, as you show, there is a clear connection between the past event and the present condition of the car, it would be unusual to use the present perfect here. I suppose this is because it is not news to you -- unless the circumstances are very unusual in some way, to you it's a past event and so the past simple would be the best form here. It would also be common to focus on the car's condition with a reply like 'I'm afraid my car's in the garage' ('garage' meaning the mechanic's).

I hope this makes sense -- please let us know if you have any further questions about this.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Moroz, I actually asked the administrators and hope they will reply to my query.
Thank you.

Hello, may I ask you to explain the difference in time reference between the following sentences:
I've seen him somewhere.
I've seen him this morning.
Also, can you advise what concept check questions I could ask my students to explain this difference.
Thank you!

Hello peisy,

In the first sentence, the time reference is to a past action that is important at the time of speaking -- this sentence implies that I see 'him' now as I'm speaking.

In the second sentence, the time reference is to the recent past, specifically to today. Whenever a time expression includes the word 'this', we normally use the present perfect. So even if you're referring to a long period of time, you should use the present perfect -- e.g. 'I haven't seen him this century'.

Without knowing more about your teaching context and students, it's difficult to give advice on specific questions, but I'd say the main concept is that the present perfect is used to talk about a past event that is relevant to the present in some way. Have you considered asking this question on our sister site Teaching English? I expect you could get lots of interesting advice there.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Kirk,
Thank you for your reply.
Actually, there is no teaching context, just a general case. I will appreciate your opinion about my interpretation:
In the first example we are talking about our experience up to the present, in other words, we do not refer to a specific time. In the second example we are talking about a period of time which started in the past and continues in the present (it is still morning, it has not finished yet).
Thank you!

Hello peisy,

Yes, your interpretation is correct -- good work!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, Peisy. Are you ask me or Kirk?

Hello. Sorry for my poor language. How can explain why in "Have you ever seen a ghost?" used Present Perfect? Where in this sentence is the finished events?