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:

Use

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.

WARNING:

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.

   

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

For example: " I have read a book" and " I read a book". Or "I have seen titanic" and " I saw Titanic". Which ones are correct? And what's the difference?

Hello AzzuCope,

The present perfect tells us about something in the past which has a present relevance. For example, 'I have seen Titanic' tells us something about the present: that the speaker doesn't want to watch the film because they've seen it already, or that they can tell you something about the film, or that they have something in common with another fan etc.

By contrast, the past simple places the action in a completed time frame. We use this form when the action is entirely complete and has no particular effect today. The past simple gives us information about the past; the present perfect gives us information about how the past influences the present. Note that the past simple requires a time reference, either explict ('I went to Spain in 1999') or implicit from the context.

I hope that clarifies it for you. Please also try to post your question in one comment rather than several - it makes it easier to read and answer and takes up less space on the page so that more comments from others are visible.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello!
Which is the difference between present prefect simple and past simple as regard unspecified time?

*on the contrary, past simple is used when we talk about actions which are not so recent, without sacrificing the time.
Is it correct?

Dear Sir,
I understand that for something that we've done several times in the past and continue to do, we can use either presnt perfect simple or present perfect continuous. What's the diffrence then?
We've been going out every day since we arrived.
or
We've gone out every day since we arrived.
Thanks in advance.

Hello FranticGlover,

We actually have a page on this very topic. You can find it here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,teachers.Please do me a favour,I am puzzeld.
The following is part of a dialogue:
(Sharon is a gymnast.She is at the doctor's.)
SHARON:I was doing some exercises on the high-and-low bars. When i landed,I fell forward and hurt myself.
DOCTOR:It's nothing serious. I think you've been very fortunate.
The last sentence,
Can i say "I think you are very fortunate."or "I think you were very fortunate."please tell me the difference meanings between them.

Hi buguniao,

All of those forms are possible, but have different meanings. However, I'm afriad we can't give in-depth explanations of multiple verb forms in the comments sections. We have pages on each of these forms so I suggest you go to the Verbs section of our Grammar section and look for information on the past simple, the present perfect and the present simple.

After you've looked at the information which is there we'll be happy to try to answer any specific questions you may have.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for teacher's suggestion.I have read the information on the past simple,the present perfect, the present simple several times.And right now i could understand the difference between the past simple and the present simple.But i am still puzzled about "I think you are very fortunate."and"I think you have been very fortunate."Because if these two sentences are translated into Chinese ,they are the same Chinese characters.so please just tell me the difference of their focusing on.Thanks a lot in advance.I am sorry for bothering you with such question.But it really make me puzzled.

Hello buguniao,

In the context you describe both sentences are perfectly fine and the only difference is in emphasis.

I think you have been very fortunate.

- this refers to the fortune the person had before now; it does not tell us anything about what may happen next

I think you are very fortunate.

- this refers to the person in more general terms, suggesting that luck is a characteristic they have - the speaker is effectively drawing a conclusion about the person from the evidence of the situation

 

In this context it does not really make a difference, but it can be an important distinction. Compare:

You've been very stupid (one particular action)

You're very stupid (in general)

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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