Present perfect

Do you know how to use phrases like She's called every day this week, I've broken my leg and Have you ever been to Scotland?

Look at these examples to see how the present perfect is used.

He's been to ten different countries.
I haven't seen her today.
My phone's run out of battery. Can I use yours?
Have you ever dyed your hair a different colour?

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Present perfect: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

We use the present perfect simple (have or has + past participle) to talk about past actions or states which are still connected to the present.

Unfinished time and states

We often use the present perfect to say what we've done in an unfinished time period, such as today, this week, this year, etc., and with expressions such as so far, until now, before, etc.

They've been on holiday twice this year.
We haven't had a lot of positive feedback so far.
I'm sure I've seen that film before.

We also use it to talk about life experiences, as our life is also an unfinished time period. We often use never in negative sentences and ever in questions.

I've worked for six different companies.
He's never won a gold medal.
Have you ever been to Australia?

We also use the present perfect to talk about unfinished states, especially with for, since and how long.

She's wanted to be a police officer since she was a child.
I haven't known him for very long.
How long have you had that phone?

Finished time and states

If we say when something happened, or we feel that that part of our life is finished, we use the past simple.

We visited Russia for the first time in 1992.
I went to three different primary schools.
Before she retired, she worked in several different countries.

We also use the past simple for finished states.

We knew all our neighbours when we were children.
I didn't like bananas for a really long time. Now I love them!

Past actions with a result in the present 

We can use the present perfect to talk about a past action that has a result in the present.

He's broken his leg so he can't go on holiday.
There's been an accident on the main road, so let's take a different route.
They haven't called me, so I don't think they need me today.

Again, if we say when it happened, we use the past simple.

He broke his leg last week so he can't go on holiday.

However, we often use the present perfect with words like just, recently, already, yet and still.

We've recently started going to the gym.
She's already finished season one and now she's watching season two.
Have you checked your emails yet?

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Present perfect: Grammar test 2

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Language level

B1 English level (intermediate)
I guess my English on the right way to perfection. LOL!!!! Just kidding. While reading the question I was making up an answer in my mind and when I finally read yours, it was exactly I thought. I love this site!
Hello, could you please tell me if these sentences are correct and what the difference in meaning is: 1. Sarah has told me I’m talking in my sleep. I already knew I was. 2. Sarah told me I’ve been talking in my sleep. I already knew I was. 3. Sarah has told me I’ve been talking in my sleep. I already knew I was. And both these same first sentences again, but with ‘I already know I am.’ as the accompanying second sentence. Can “already knew” and “already know” mean the same thing as “already” suggests to having prior knowledge?

Hello JoAp,

All the sentences are correct. The differences are really ones of emphasis,

 

Sentence 1: The information from Sarah is recent; it is still 'news' to you. Speaking in your sleep is still a problem/issue.

 

Sentence 2: The information from Sarah is not seen by you as 'news'. either she told you some time ago, or you consider it something not relevant to your present. For example, you may not be interested in acting upon the information – you don't care that you speak in your sleep. The change from I'm talking to I've been talking does not make any difference in this context.

 

Sentence 3: This is a combination of 1 and 2; see the relevant parts of the descriptions above.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir. I have a question regarding article "the" and possessive case of Noun. India's President and the prime minister condoled on Monday. Sir, as far as I know we can rewrite india's president = The President of India. Whenever I study regards the possessive case of noun, I study when we want to show possession of two nouns, for instance, It is Jake and Lilly's House As we know the "House" belongs to both Jake and Lilly. But the question that mentioned above sounds good but in my opinion it spoils the possessive case of noun,because, if we assume "the word 'India' has also possession on the word 'the prime minister' then why we need to write article 'the' before prime minister as we know we can write "India's prime minister = The prime minister of india". As far as I know If we write any possessive case before a noun we know it makes the noun definite. I want to ask you Does the Possessive case "india's" have possession on the prime minister as it has possession on president. Please Elaborate it.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

I think the clearest way to expain this is to compare two version of your sentence:

1. India's President and the prime minister condoled on Monday.

2. India's President and (India's) prime minister condoled on Monday.

 

In sentence 2 the possessive India's refers to both people. It is clear that both the prime minister and the president are Indian.

In sentence 1 the possessive form describes only 'President'. The prime minister could be from India or from another country. We would only know this from the context. The article here must refer to another mention of the prime minister earlier in the text.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, "Farmers like Baburao Tadas in India are praying for normal monsoon rains after their incomes were hit by erratic weather and lower crop prices over the past few years. Sir, I want to ask a question regarding the use of 'past/next/last' words when they follow Article 'the'. I read a blog of yours on the same website where a teacher explained the use of last/next with article 'the' when they follow it. In the blog, The teacher said "If article 'the' precedes these word we have to use present perfect tense." But in the question above mentioned, past tense is used, i want to ask you Whether is Simple Past Tense correct here or Present Prefect should be there instead of Simple Past? Please elaborate it.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

It's difficult to make generalizations about grammar, and especially without specific examples in context. To me the general rule of using the present perfect sounds correct, but this is not to say that it's always the only possible form. 

I'm afraid I can't explain the sentence you ask about. I don't think I'd say 'the past few years' -- instead I'd probably say 'in recent years'. I wouldn't say the sentence is wrong, but I'd suggest changing that last part.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Sir I'm facing a problem with the a specific structure of "OF". When it comes before the Noun Phrases. There are so many structures of "OF" with noun phrases. While I was reading a newspaper, I came by it. The sentence is The first image was of the more distant one. I want to know when 'of' precedes 'be' verb, what it means to us. I'm not dawning on the meaning what it is conveying. Please elaborate it.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

It looks to me as if some words have been omitted from the sentence you ask about. I'd need to know the context to give you an exact answer, but it sounds as if the text this sentence is from probably discusses two or more images before this sentence -- for example, maybe it's two images of two comets, one of which is relatively close and the other is further away.

The sentence you ask about indicates that it's talking about the more distant comet, which is represented in the first image. In other words, it's another form of 'The first image was [a photograph] of the more distant [comet].'

Hope this helps you make sense of it. 

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, I have a doubt regarding 'it' While I was reading a book, I came by a sentence The sentence is.... 1) Now, I realised that it was not 'he' but this man who was making a mistake. Sir, I want to ask about "he". As far as I know 'it' is a dummy subject here. Then why do we need 'he' which is a subjective case. Should it be in objective case 'him'. If we use it in subjective form there are two subjects that spoil the subject- verb consistency. I read so many sentences in which 'it' is a subject and objective form of pronoun is used. The another question that I want to ask is that we can use both form of the pronoun after 'it' when it works as a dummy subject in the sentence. Please elaborate it. Please Elaborate it.

Hi Kapil Kabir,

Yes! It's just a question of style.

In traditional grammar, the nominative case is used after a copula verb (e.g. It was not he. / It is I. / (on the phone) Is Jane there? And Jane answers: This is she). However, this is considered very formal in modern English, and the use of the objective case is common and accepted instead (e.g. It was not him / It's me / This is her).

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I have also a doubt regarding Present continuous tense and Adverb of frequency. When Adverb od frequency is used with Continuous tense. I have some examples. 1) He was always making trouble among his neighbors. ) He was often making trouble among his neighbors. In the 1st question 'always' is used to show that he does it 'very often'. But the second one I'm not getting what "often" means here. Please elaborate it also. What does 'often mean here as ' Always means 'very often' when it is used in present continuous tense.

Hi Kapil Kabir,

There are two things to note here.

  • Often means the action happens frequently or many times, but less frequently than always. It is still a relatively high frequency.
  • Always literally means 'all the time' (i.e. 100% of the time). So, people often use it to exaggerate the situation, especially when they are complaining about something. Sentence 1 sounds like this. Sentence 2 sounds like a more factual (i.e. less exaggerated) description, and it might be used when somebody is just describing the situation rather than complaining about it.

I hope that helps. If you have more questions about adverbs of frequency, it would be good to put them on our page on How often. We can continue the discussion there if needed :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

He loves animal,she__a pet. Why the answer is 'v never had Not never had. Can you explain it for me?a little confuse.Thank you.

Hi JIE LI,

If you say she's never had a pet (present perfect), it refers to an unfinished time period. That means, she still has the opportunity to get a pet now.

 

If you say she never had a pet (past simple), it is also grammatically possible, but the meaning is different. It refers to a finished time period. For example:

  • She never had a pet when she was a child. (She is not a child now - that time is finished.)
  • She never had a pet when she lived in London. (She does not live in London now - that time is finished.)

We don't have any information that the time period is finished, so we can assume that the time period continues to the present moment (i.e., it is unfinished).

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir. I have a doubt regarding a question. The question is The Primary mission of this scheme is to deliver loans up to one million to micro-enterprises which ""(was performed/ by performed / by the performed)"" by NSSO in 2013 were 5.77 million in number." Which one is suitable for this sentence, Sir?

Hello Kapil Kabir,

None of those are correct. There are problems with singular/plural consistency and with subject-verb logical agreement. You could form the statement like this, however:

The Primary mission of this scheme is to deliver loans of up to one million (dollars?) to micro-enterprises. The number of loans delivered by NSSO in 2013 was 5.77 million.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir, I often find difficulties whenever I meet with such kind of questions.... 1) It is high time that we learn English. 1) It is high time that we learnt English. Which one is correct. And I have a another question. Can we use, Always, in present perfect tense. Like we use it in present and past continuous with a meaning " very often" in the sentence. 1) I always help him. 2) I am always helping him.( With a meaning of "very often") 3) I have always helped him. Which one correct Sir. And Hope You all are safe in this pandemic. Please elaborate these..

Hello Kapil Kabir,

With the phrase 'it's (high/about) time...' we can use a past form (learnt) or a to-infinitive. We don't use use a present form.

You can read more about this here:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/it-s-time

 

'Always' means every time or without exception. However, it can be used to mean very often as a form of exaggeration. All three of your examples are correct. The second suggests the speaker finds the situation a little irritating or exasperating.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi there, I was wondering why can't we use " have you had" instead of "did you have" regarding this question You've got a new car? How long ___ the old one? Thanks in advance

Hi Maahir,

The question implies that the new car is a replacement for the old car (i.e., the person doesn't have the old one any more). So, since it's a finished time, did you have is the right answer here. Have you had is for an unfinished time.

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Well understood. but is that mean if the speaker still have the old car for some reasons, we can use have you had?
Hi, Which one looks correct? It's now midnight and I nedd to go to bed since I had a very busy day. It's now midnight and I nedd to go to bed since I've had a very busy day.

Hello Jack Red,

Both the past simple and present perfect are grammatically correct here and mean the same thing, really. In the first sentence, the user sees the day as finished whereas in the second one, she sees it as not quite over, or still relevant to the present moment even if it's over. There are many cases when the speaker's perspective on what they are speaking about will determine which verb form is the correct one. You might find our Talking about the past page useful.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

He came earlier today. He has come earlier today. Now, in this context earlier is a stated time, but today is not over yet, so should we use present perfect*

Hello Ayn,

I've answered this question on another page for you. Please post questions once only; asking the same question multiple times only slows the process down.

 

Thanks,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello British council team, I am confused about the following sentence I.........working in my company and i look for another job A. Enjoyed B. Have enjoyed Which tense is more accurate in this sentence ? Ok thanks in advance

Hello Easy peasy,

Both forms are possible. Enjoyed tells us that the speaker no longer works in the company. Have enjoyed tells us that they still work there, or have only just finished.

I think you need 'I'm looking' rather than 'I look', however, as it is presumably an ongoing action.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Warm hello to The LearnEnglish Team from Uzbekistan, Would you please help me to find out wich of the following tenses is suitable for this situation below: In 2014 i leant mnemonic techniques and now i can use it. 1.I learnt mnemonic techniques ( because it is finished action) 2.I have learnt mnemonics ( the action has its own result- i can use) And second question: In 2014 i learn some mnemonic techniques but now i cannot use it totally, i forgot them. So do we still use present perfect while the action does not have a present result?

Hello BobMux,

In natural speech, how exactly someone would express these ideas would also depend on the situation and their purpose in saying this. For example, in the first situation you describe, what I'd probably say is 'I know some mnemonic techniques' -- assuming that the most relevant point is not when I learned them, but rather that I can use them now. Then if someone asked me when I learned them, I could say 'I learned them in 2014'. I'm sure there are some contexts when the present perfect would be appropriate, but I can't think of one off the top of my head right now.

As for the second situation, you could use the past simple, but again I'd probably say something different -- for example, 'I used to know some mnemonic techniques, but I don't remember much'. (Ironic, isn't it?)

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello..!! May I ask a quistion please ? I am little confused what is different between " have you seen..?" and " did you see..?" Thank you

Hello Hemam,

This is explained in the Past and the present section of our Talking about the past page. Please have a look there, and then if you have any further questions, feel free to ask us there.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, I found a sentence while I was reading a lesson of a book. I got muddled headed and until now my head has been in a whril. "He had always wanted to go England; to have gone there, done things, and not to remember was something utterly impossible ". The first thing that I want to ask is that As far as I known, "perfect participle" shows an action which has happened by contrast The writer had wanted to go and this statement states that he had not gone to England. But the perfect participle shows he had gone to England. The second thing gets me confused is the verb "was" in the sentence. I don't know what is the subject of this verb. Please describe it. Thank you.

Hi Kapil Kabir,

It's an interesting sentence. The part with to have gone there, done things ... is actually a perfect infinitive (to have + past participle). We can use a perfect infinitive as the subject of a sentence, as it is here, and was is the verb in that sentence. 

A perfect infinitive can refer to something that happened in the past, or something that could have happened (but didn't happen). So, the sentence starting with to have gone there, done things ... doesn't actually tell us whether he really went to England or not. It just tells us that it would be impossible to go to England and do things but have no memory of it (i.e. if he had gone there, he would definitely remember it). Does the rest of the text show whether he went to England?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, I have a doubt regarding the use of word 'There'. I'm mentioning a Statement that I have read,the statement is - We use "there" in a way particularly with the subject that has indefinite article, no article, or indefinite determiners like some, any, one, no and so on. " But the doubt that I have is the use of determiners( Definite or Indefinite). I have two examples. 1) There are some students in the class. 2) There are Ten students in the class. In my point of view, both are correct but I got muddled headed when I read the statement mentioned above. In 1) According to the statement mentioned above is correct but in 2) "Ten" is a numerical determiner which is always Definite. How can it be possible one side we are saying we use "there" with the subjects that have no article or no/indefinte determiner by contrast we use "Ten" in 2).

Hello Kapil Kabir,

It's fine to use numbers with 'there is/there are'. What you have read is is not a grammatical rule, but rather a tendency that comes out of how 'there is/are' is used in communciation.

 

Generally, when we say 'There is/There are' we are describing a place to a person who has not seen it before. For example, I could describe my kitchen to you by saying 'There is a cooker near the window and...' but I would not do this if you are familiar with my kitchen as you would already know what is in it.

The definite article, by its nature, generally refers to things that are known to the speaker and listener. Therefore it is unusual to use 'there is/there are' with the definite article. However, it is not a rule, but rather a tendency resulting from its inherent meaning.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello British Council Team, I have just confusion about a structure "having + 3rd form of verb +..." that I have seen many times written and listening to from some of the people in their conversation. Could you please clarify its uses with examples? Thank you.
Dears, may I ask you a question? I have a question and I nee to answer: "How did you find it out?" what is the best and correct answer to it? "I heard it in the canteen" or "I have heard it in the canteen". From my point of view the first one is the correct one, because it was a finished action, but I´m not certain about it. It might have a connection to the present and in this case the present perfect would be better….Thank you for your help.

Hello PavlaH,

The best choice here is the past simple (I heard it...). The other person's question already places the action in a completed past time frame, so the past tense is appropriate.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter, thank you for explaining. One more question related to the first sentence. Is it OK to use there IT - "How did you find IT out?" Or is it better to use it without IT . "How did you find out?" Thank you. Pavla

Hello PavlaH,

You can use either form here. The question with 'it' is more specific: you are asking about a concrete piece of information. The question without 'it' could be more general or specific, depending on the context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello  I was going through some online exercises and I bumped into these two question.   1-I didn’t recognize my friend John at the party yesterday.He(HAS PUT/HAD PUT/PUT)on a lot of weight| Answer:has put  2-Yesterday at a restaurant, I saw kelly, an old friend of mine. I had not seen her in years. At first, I didn’t recognize her because she (HAS LOST/HAD LOST/LOST)weight| Answer:has put  I thought both Answers were HAD PUT because the action of losing or putting on weight happened before the action of recognizing. Or is it because losing or putting weight is a slow process,And since it’s (yesterday) there won’t a big change? Thank you in advance 

Hi Turki123456,

Actually, my first answer would be had put/lost too :) But has put/lost also work.

The difference is in the relationship between the events. If you say had put and had lost (past perfect), it means that John put on weight and Kelly lost weight before you saw them yesterday. It links both events to the party/restaurant yesterday. You would choose this tense if, after saying these sentences, you wanted to keep on speaking about what happened yesterday at the party/restaurant.

If you say has put and has lost (present perfect), it means that John putting on weight and Kelly losing weight is relevant to the current conversation topic. So, you would choose this tense if you wanted to continue speaking about their weight gain/loss (not the party/restaurant).

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

What’s the difference between “he has been described as a talented cook” and “he is being described as a talented cook”? Thanks

Hello Fiona,

The first sentence (has been described) uses the present perfect for something which happened in the past (someone described him) and is still relevant now (he has this reputation).

The second sentence (is being described) uses the present continuous for something which is in progress at the time of speaking, or which is currently true but is temporary. You might say this if the person has become the focus of attention and is receiving praise in the media at the moment.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team