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 Asya's,

The present perfect is used in a number of ways but the one you are referring to here, I think, is when an action continues up to the present (unfinished past); the past simple is used when an action is complete (finished past time). I'm not sure what you mean by 'reach' in your examples, but I can illustrate with a clearer example:

He has made three cakes today. [he may make more]

He made three cakes today. [he will not make more; the action is complete]


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Actually I meant "work finished". But the time of the completion, the adverb of time, is related to the present, "today". Now, in this context, which one is appropriate: "I have finished the work today" or "I finished the work today"? Or, using "reach" as the verb, "I have reached London today" or "I reached London today" - which one is appropriate?

Hi Adya's,

The time of completion is unfinished, but the act itself is complete and not longer current and so a past form is more likely:

I finished it today.

However, if the speaker is simply interested in announcing the result of their work then the present perfect would be used without a time reference. Further questions would be in the past simple (asking about a completed action), so you might have a dialogue like this:


I've finished it!

When did you finish it?



Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello there,
Is The usage of present perfect and present perfect continuous in the first state, I mean the state something started in the past and continues in present;
I have lived in the Netherlands since 2014.
I have been living in the Netherlands since 2014.
I have worked as a teacher for three years
I have been working as a teacher for three years
And I was wondering if you find keeping asking is annoying!
thanx so much in advance

Hello khuder,

All of those sentences describe an unfinished time period: something which started in the past and continued up to the moment of speaking.

We don't answer all questions we receive but we answer as many as we can. We certainly don't mind people asking, though we do request that each question is posted once only and not repeated on multiple pages.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

When can I use present perfect and present perfect continuous? Or I can use both in every situation?

Hello Xixi,

We have a page specifically on this topic. You can find it here and I think it will answer your question.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hi there..could you please explain these sentences
"I have seen that film yesterday.( why this sentence is wronge)?
"we have bought a new car this week"(why this is right)?
and 1 more thing I wanted to ask is please could you give me any tips to improve my handwriting and writing speed?thanks