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
Read the explanation to learn more.
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
I have a question about present perfect tense particularly with the verbs BEEN and GONE. I know the difference between them in positive senteces, but what about in the negative ones? For example is it the same to say " I haven't BEEN to Cancún" and " I haven't GONE to Cancún" ???
Generally speaking, the distinction is the same, with been suggesting a visit and return and gone suggesting that the person has still not come back. However, in informal language in some dialects people occasionally use 'gone' to mean 'visited':
I would say this is a non-standard use which is limited to informal use and which many people would consider incorrect.
The LearnEnglish Team
Thanks for your great efforts you are doing in making students more confident about grammar.
I have seen a ufo when I was in Italy.
I know that the sentence is incorrect
All I want you to do is to please tell me whether I’m correct in my explanation or not about why it is incorrect.
The verb I’ve seen means that I saw it in the past and have a memory of it now so it’s because of this present reference conflicting with the when clause referring to the past that the sentence is not correct. It’s like saying I have a memory of it when I was in Italy the sentence makes no sense .
Hi Tony 1980,
I think you're more or less on the right lines.
'I've seen' is a present form. It describes a present state - memory or knowledge, for example. However, 'when I was' is a past form. It describes a completed historical past time: a time frame which is no longer open. The problem is that there is a conceptual inconsistency in the sentence. The first form tells us that the speaker considers the time frame open (it is still relevant) while the second tells us that the speaker considers the time frame closed.
The LearnEnglish Team
Thanks Peter your explanation was really helpful I appreciate it
In 3 years time I’ll be teaching English in one of my country’s university that’s why I wanted your professional help to tell me if I’m right in the following definitions:
A past event is a hypothetical present event seen from a real present event
Since, serves as the starting point of the present perfect and because the starting point of the present perfect refers to the past , since, serves to indicate the past aspect of the present perfect and for this reason it is followed by a past tense.
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.
The LearnEnglish Team
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.
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.
The LearnEnglish Team
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?