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.





Is correct to say "At the University, I have learnt how to speak English..."? I am not studying there anymore. Why am I using this tense? The present perfect tense is used to talk about (some kind of) experience / events from the past, when the specific time is not referred . Right? I am looking forward to your reply. Thank you in advance.

Hello N_Ponte,

By saying "at university" (note it's usually "at university", without "the", unless you're referring to a specific one) you indirectly refer to a specific time, so the present perfect in your sentence actually indicates that you are still at university. Since in reality you are not studying there anymore, the best form to use here is the past simple: "At university, I learnt how to speak English."

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, is this sentence correct?

''I have been come home for one year. what I want to say, one year has been passed after I came home.How do I say it to others

Hello Tharanga,

That sentence is not correct - it has two past participles (been and come) where it should have only one. You could say I have been home for one year or I have come home for one year, but they mean different things. The first sentence says what you mean, i.e. is appropriate after you have been home for one year. The second sentence (with come) is what one would say upon arriving at home with the plan to stay there for one year.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


Thanks for the advice

Hi! I am very confused when using present perfect and present perfect continuous. Both have the meaning for something that started in the past and continues in the present.
e.g 1. She has lived in London since 2000.
2. She has been living in London since 2000.
So which one is correct? Please help me. Thank you very much.

Hi Wong Lei Yoke,

This is an area which is not straightforward and is very often really a question of the speaker's perspective.  In other words, as in your example, both forms are possible and the speaker can choose what he or she wants to emphasise.  We generally say that the present perfect gives a sense of completion (but that does not mean the action cannot continue, merely that you are describing a certain time period), while the present perfect continuous emphasises that an activity is ongoing and unfinished.

It's a very subtle distinction.  Fortunately, we have a page devoted specifically to this question.  You can find it here and I hope it helps to clarify the point for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

1. Can I write "I have been playing guitar ever since I was a kid" for the statement "I’ve played the guitar ever since I was a teenager"?

2. Can we write "My last birthday was the worst day I have ever had" as "My last bday has been the worst day I have ever had" or "My last bday had been the worst day so far".

Hi ankita2219,

1. This sentence works if you are much older at the time it is spoken. The issue is that kid usually refers to a child. Although it can be used to refer to a teenager, normally only people who are middle-aged (about 40+), would say kid to refer to a teenager.

2. Your first version of the sentence is a bit unnatural, though comprehensible. This is because last birthday implies a time that has already passed, whereas the present perfect has been implies a time that hasn't yet passed - this incongruity is unnatural. I'd suggest changing the verb to was or say this birthday. The version with had been works in a context in which you are reflecting on that birthday when you had already had other birthdays after it.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

"My last birthday was the worst day I have ever had" is an example used in the section about the use of present perfect to express our experience up to the present. So, is the example wrong?