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

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Hi Andi,

I'm afraid I don't really follow your thinking here. Hypothetical is used to describe whether an action is/was real or merely speculative. Past events could be either, so I don't understand what you're getting at.

At the moment it doesn't seem to make sense to me, but if you want to explain further with a concrete example then I'll be happy to consider it.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter

In fact I wanted to add an example but I didn’t want to be too long on my comment I’m so sorry

So, for my first definition ; if today, on Friday, the Teacher is explaining tenses to the students , tomorrow , on Saturday,one student would say; teacher explained us the tenses yesterday, on Friday. Also tomorrow, on Saturday, that student would hypothesize ( suppose ) that ; yesterday action ( teacher explained us …) is the same present action ( teacher is explaining…)if we suppose that yesterday is today, this all seen now not from a suppositional present but a real one ,if tomorrow now has come.

Sorry for being so long and confusing but I hope you find some time to deal with it.

Best regards
Andi

Hi again Andi,

I'm really sorry but I still don't know what you're trying to say. I've shown the question to a couple of colleagues and they're as confused as I am! I can see you have a conceptual framework that you're trying to apply but it seems to me that it only complicates the system rather than simplifying it. More than that I can't really say.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter
Sorry for engaging you in a confusing idea you rightfully said it complicates the system I highly appreciate your effort

What about my second definition; since, serves as the starting point…
Is it correct?
Best regards
Andi

Hi Andi,

Yes, that's correct. 'Since' shows the moment from which the given action occurs so the pattern is:

present perfect > since > past simple
I have lived in Paris since I was a student.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Thu, 30/09/2021 - 20:54

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Hello Team. Could you help me use the correct tense: present perfect or present perfect continuous? Why?
- Ali has fallen and we are taking him to hospital.
- Ali has been falling and we are taking him to hospital.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Both sentences are correct but mean something slightly different. Well, actually, I'd need to know the full context to explain the difference with 100% certainty, but in general the first is speaking about one fall -- probably very recently.

The second one is talking about a series of falls in the recent past -- it could be over the past hour or over the past few months.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ngoc on Sun, 26/09/2021 - 16:31

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Hi team, this sentence in the first test " You've got a new car? How long ___ the old one? I chose the present perfect form and it was wrong, but I don't really know why so can you explain it to me. Thank team!

Hello ngoc,

In this situation, we assume that the person no longer has the old car; the idea is that when we get a new car, at the same time we get rid of the old one.

Since we no longer have the old car, having the old car is clearly in the past (no longer connected with the present), and so the past simple is the correct form.

This switch from present perfect to past simple is quite common. Another example:

A: Have you ever been to Vietnam?
B: Yes, I went there last year.

In this case, the frame for A's question is B's lifetime -- that is, the question asks if A has been to Vietnam at some point in their life; since B is still alive, their lifetime includes the present moment.

For B, the frame is the trip they made to Vietnam last year -- a specific past time that is no longer connected with the present.

I hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Sat, 25/09/2021 - 19:06

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Hello Sir, I got muddle headed while I was studying about the use of Adjective. We know we use Adjective Predictively and Attributively. I have two sentences. 1) The company makes the cars safe. 2) The company makes safe cars 3) This feature makes cars safe. 4) This feature makes safe cars. As we know 'safe' is an adjective in both of these. It describes cars(Noun). I want to know which one is correct and what is difference between "cars safe" and "safe cars" What is difference between the use of an adjective predictively and Attributively? Will the meaning change when we use an adjective predictively and Attributively?