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Present perfect

Level: beginner

The present perfect is formed from the present tense of the verb have and the past participle of a verb.

We use the present perfect:

  • 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.

  • when we are talking about our experience up to the present:

I've seen that film before.
I've played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.

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.

and we use never for the negative form:

Have you ever met George?
Yes, but I've never met his wife.

Present perfect 1

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Present perfect 2

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  • for something that happened in the past but is important in the present:

I can't get in the house. I've lost my keys.
Teresa isn't at home. I think she has gone shopping.

Present perfect 3

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Present perfect 4

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have been and have gone

We use have/has been 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's Maria? I haven't seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She'll be back tomorrow.
 

have been and have gone

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Present perfect with time adverbials 

We often use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to the recent past:

recently just only just

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey.
We have just got back from our holidays.

or adverbials which include the present:

so far     until now     up to now
ever
(in questions)
yet (in questions and negatives)

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Where have you been up to now?
A: Have you finished your homework yet?
B: No, so far I've only done my history.

After a clause with the present perfect we often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

I've worked here since I left school.
I've been watching that programme every week since it started.

Present perfect with time adverbials 1

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Present perfect with time adverbials 2

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Be careful!
We do not use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a finished past time:
yesterday last week/month/year in 2017 when I was younger etc.

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 the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a time which is not yet finished:
today this week/month/year now that I am 18 etc.

Have you seen Helen today?
We have bought a new car this week.

Present perfect and past simple 1

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Present perfect and past simple 2

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Level: intermediate

Present perfect continuous

The present perfect continuous is formed with have/has been and the -ing form of the verb.

We normally use the present perfect continuous to emphasise that something is still continuing in the present:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It's been raining for hours.
I'm tired out. I've been working all day.
They have been staying with us since last week.

We do not normally use the present perfect continuous with stative verbs. We use the present perfect simple instead:

I've always been liking liked John.

Present perfect continuous 1

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Present perfect continuous 2

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Present perfect for future

We normally use the present simple to talk about the future in clauses with before, after, until, etc.:

I'll keep looking until I find my book.
We'll begin when everyone arrives.

but we can also use the present perfect:

I'll keep looking until I have found my book.
We'll begin when everyone has arrived.

Comments

Hello, sirs.
I'd like to know what you think the best answer to this question:
She is glad she is a businesswoman. This ___her ambition ever since she was young.
a) is
b) has been
c) was
d) had been

Hello aymanme2,

I think the best option here is (c) was.

At first glance, option (b) has been seems the most likely as we have what looks like an unfinished time period ('since she was young'). However, if we consider that her ambition to be a businesswoman is complete then the past simple makes more sense. Presumably now she has a different ambition: to run her own company, to write a novel etc. Thus, the previous ambition is complete and represents finished time.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, sir.
Yet, wouldn't "had been" be better as I have learnt that 'since' is usually preceded by 'perfect tense' unless it is used with expressions like: it is a long time / it is years ...?

Please clarify and give a bit of detail about the sentence.
He has been so excited.
What intention does it denote?
1.whether it shows the state of excitement started in the past and continuing to that point?
2. Or the state of past excitement has the present result. if yes, how?(meaning could you provide your example related to the given context).
3.Or is the state of excitement an experience till that point?
3

Hello Mussorie,

I would guess that the person has been waiting for something which has now happened, and this sentence describes how they have been feeling while waiting. However, without knowing the context this is only a guess. Context is very important when dealing with aspects (perfective, continuous).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Which is actually the correct term? -> 'present perfect' or 'present perfect simple'. I've also seen the term 'simple present perfect'. If they are all correct, can I use the terms interchangeably?

Hello re_nez,

Yes, in general, these are interchangeable terms, though of course what matters is what people mean by them. Usually we add 'simple' to 'present perfect' in order to distinguish the form from the present perfect continuous. If you see just 'present perfect', it normally refers to the non-continuous form.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Difference between
1.It is a great journey(present simple)
2.It has been a great journey(present perfect)
When to use what, can you please provide context and explain the two sentences in detail?

Hello Mussorie,

The second sentence tells us that the journey is not finished, or else has only just finished. In other words either we are still travelling or we are at the end of it.

The first sentence is a general statement. It tells us what a particular journey is like, but it does not mean we are one or have been on that journey. It is simply a description in the same way you might say 'That is a great building' or 'The Mona Lisa is a great work of art'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,

Can you help me to get an answer for, what is the difference between present perfect and present perfect continues ? Because for both was written that they are for something started in the past and continues in the present.

We use the present perfect:

for something that started in the past and continues in the present:

She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

We normally use the present perfect continuous to emphasise that something is still continuing in the present:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.

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