Present perfect

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? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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

Language level

Average: 4 (56 votes)

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Sat, 09/03/2024 - 17:40

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Can I use the present perfect tense in the sentence below?

Her rude attitude at the party yesterday has made me feel very angry until now.

Hello Khangvo2812,

Grammatically the sentence is correct. Her behaviour is in a past time period ('yesterday') but your feeling is in a present time period ('until now'), so the present perfect is possible. Using the phrase 'until now' suggests that this is about to change or has just changed: ...angry until now but I'm calming down now.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Fri, 08/03/2024 - 03:47

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Can I use the present perfect in the sentence below?

I'm not sure the toilet I'm about to talk about is the same toilet that you have shown us. A few years ago , I saw a men's toilet in an art gallery which had been taken to an auction and one of the critics at the auction offered several hundred million dollars for it?

Hello Khangvo2812,

Yes, it's possible to use the present perfect here. The past simple would also work in many contexts. Which form is best depends on the speaker or writer's perspective, which is explained in general on our Talking about the past page.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Can I say that I used the present perfect there as the action of showing happened at an unidentified time in the past?

Hello again Khangvo2812,

Yes, that's possible. It was shown at some unidentified point in the past and that act is relevant now.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by BeataBB on Wed, 21/02/2024 - 16:15

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I need help with such a sentence: "Where have you bought this jacket? I love it!" or should it be: "Where did you buy it? I love it!"

Hello BeataBB,

The past simple form ('Where did you buy it?') is the best form here. Even if you bought the jacket very recently, that action is completed and generally not relevant to the time of speaking.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Hello, thank you so much for the answer and explanation. What I thought was that the comment "I love it" suggests the result of an action and that made the example a little bit misleading . As I assume - it has no impact on the choice od Perfect because the purchase was done once and definitely in some past moment? Or is the sentence "I love it" of an importance anyway??? I'd love to hear explanation from you as a native speaker 🙂

Hello BeataBB,

You are right in thinking that saying 'I love it' brings some focus to the present moment and you are also right in thinking that it could be relevant. In this case, though, I would say that the connection between the action of the other person buying the jacket and your loving it isn't direct enough for the present perfect to make sense.

Hope this helps!

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team