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 dubbm2803,

English has a rather complicated system in which tense refers only to past and present. The other elements (continuous and perfective) are aspects, which can be added to the tense to show whether or not an action was complete or not, permanent or temporary, repeated or single etc.

You can read more about continuous aspect here and perfective aspect here.

To read about the different between present perfect simple and present perfect continuous take a look at this page.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much, this was really hopeful :)

Would you say 'Its started last week' or 'It has started last week' if the action referred to continues this week?

Hello mck81,

'It has started last week' is not correct in standard English because the time expression 'last week' refers to a finished time period. In that kind of situation, the present perfect is not used.

For this reason, 'It started last week' is the correct form here. Saying this can mean that the action is still happening this week, because 'it started last week' only refers to the beginning of the action, not how long it continued or when it ended.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I was wondering, what would be the best timeline to explain present perfect(just).
i.e. she's just swept the floor.
would this work xxxxxxxx
Thanks and regards,

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey. Can I put the time adverbial at the begining ? so it will be like this.
Recently, scientists have discovered a new breed of monkey.
If yes, does it apply to all other time adverbial?

Hello Salie108,

In general, time adverbials (including but not limited to 'recently') usually go in mid position or end position – in this example, it's in mid-position – but they can also be put in front position, so yes, your sentence is correct. Usually putting them in front position adds emphasis, though there can be other reasons for it. There's a detailed explanation of this in the Cambridge Dictionary's page on adverbs. I think that should answer your questions, but if you have any other specific ones, please don't hesitate to ask us.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi everyone!
Is it possible to write: It's a long time I wanted to write you but.....

Hello Ilariuccia,

Not in standard English. Instead, I'd recommend 'I've been wanting to write (to) you for a long time' or 'It's been a long time since I wanted to write (to) you'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team