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

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Submitted by HLH on Thu, 25/01/2024 - 09:21

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Hello team
Example
I've waited you for an hour

Does this mean it happened or is it still happening?
It means I waited you one hour ago OR I've been waiting you for an hour

Hello HLH,

We don't use the present perfect simple here.

If the waiting is completely in the past -- in other words, I'm no longer waiting -- then we use a past simple form: 'I waited for you for an hour'.

If I'm still waiting now, we say 'I've been waiting for you for an hour'. We use the continuous form because it emphasizes that the action is still in progress (which is true for this situation); the present perfect simple form would emphasize completion (which is not true for this situation).

By the way, notice that we say 'wait for a person', not 'wait a person'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Wed, 24/01/2024 - 09:09

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Could you tell me which is the correct sentence?
I learned a lot from this morning’s meeting.
I have learned a lot from this morning’s meeting.

Hello Khangvo,

The phrase 'this morning's meeting' suggests that the meeting is finished. For this reason, the first option is more natural, because we generally use the past simple over the present perfect when talking about finished events that aren't relevant to the present in some way.

The other sentence is possible if, for example, the meeting just finished or the learning is still important in this moment somehow.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by .Mariia on Tue, 23/01/2024 - 09:41

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Hello,
Could both of these sentences be correct?
1.This week, we got a small puppy.
2.This week, we have got a small puppy.

Hello .Mariia,

Both sentences are possible, yes. In the first, 'got' means 'we received'. It tells us that someone gave you or sent you the puppy. In the second, 'have got' could mean the same or it could mean 'we have'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ulk on Mon, 09/10/2023 - 23:05

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Hello team, I have a couple of questions concerning present perfect.
1. Is the past simple of BE is correct in the phrase ‘ Everything I ‘ve seen so far WAS very interesting’ or should it be present perfect( Has been )?
2. If somebody says ‘ I’ve lived in Spain for 5 years’, it usually means that this person is still living there. But can it also be correct if this person is not living there anymore but just telling about their experience of living abroad?
Thank you

Hello Ulk,

1. Since you have the phrase 'so far' it is clear that the visit is not finished. Therefore the present perfect ('has been') is correct.

2. If the person is talking about their experience then they would not add 'for five years' but simply say I've lived in Spain. In the next sentence they could switch to past tense to add more detail: I've lived in Spain. I went there in 2012 and I was there for five years.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,
about the second point above, can I use the following construction, using the past simple tense "I LIVED IN SPAIN FOR FIVE YEARS" to mean that this experience is finished and it lasted 5 years?

Thanks for your reply,
Elisabetta