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 ryanpaul190,

We use this form (the present perfect continuous) to describe an action which began in the past and is still continuing, or which is repeated up to the present moment. I would guess that the former is the case in this example (the speaker started waiting a while ago) but it would need a time reference:

I've been waiting for you for hours!

When asking about the meaning/use of particular forms it is always better to provide a full sentence as the context is usually very important in establishing the meaning.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hi. what's the difference between:
I am pleased to say that his pain has improved.
I am pleased to say that his pain is improved.

They are confident that his cold has settled down.
They are confident that his cold is settled down.

thanks much in advance

Hello Setrah,

The first example in each pair has a verb in the present perfect form, which describes the present result of a change. The second example has a verb in the present simple, which describes a current state. In many cases both would be correct; whether or not the change is important or just the current state is a choice for the speaker.

You can read more about present forms on this page (see the links on the right for pages on each form).


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
After going through your websiite carefully (present perfect simple and cont..)
I am still not sure of certain things for me it is puzzeling.
Could you please clarify these:1) I have lived in London for two years. This means: I still live in London or not. 2) I have been living in London for two years. This I know I still livie London. My problem is Present perfect simple. Next one: I have worked here for five years. ( This means at the moment not ... )
Next: A friend you met last year has invited you ... I know this is correct but is it not better to say A friend you met last year had invited you. After going through your website again and again I couldn't understand. I am sorry. Please clarify this.
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

1) Yes, if you say that, it means you still live in London. Sentence 2, as you say, also means the same thing. 'I have worked here for five years' also means you still work here. For more on the difference between present perfect simple and continuous, have you seen this Quick Grammar page? And for present perfect and past simple, this video and this other video with Rob might help if you haven't already watched them.

As for your friend inviting you, the two sentences mean different things. In both cases, the time you met your friend is in the past, but the time she invites you is different. 'has invited you' indicates a recent action that occurred in a time period that includes the present. 'had invited you' means the invitation was extended at a time before another past time. This other past time isn't clear here, as your sentence has no context, but it could be, for example, 'before you left your home town'.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Thank you very much. Now it is very clear.
Best regards
Andrew international

Hello sir,

Is there any sequence to learn tenses or just read all forms of present, then past, future.
Too make it easy as some forms create confusion.

Hello Water,

Without knowing you better, it's difficult to give you specific advice. In general, though, unless you really like grammar, I'd suggest taking one or two tenses at a time. And in fact, you might want to take an entirely different approach. Instead of reading through this Grammar section, you could watch the videos in Word on the Street. Each episode includes a couple of videos ('Language Focus') where grammar is discussed. It's not always verb tenses, but as you listen to the episodes and to the explanations, pay attention to how verbs are used. You can then refer to this grammar reference for more information.

Anyway, that's an idea for you. You're welcome to use our site in whatever way best suits you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

If I say for example, "Last year, I often go to Singapore." What tense is this? Will it fall on present perfect tense or present simple?

Hello ELP Train,

'I often go' would be present simple, but it is not correct to use this form with a past time reference like 'last year'. If you are talking about last year then 'I often went' would be correct - past simple.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team