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: 4.2 (68 votes)
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Hello again Melvin,

To my ear your example does not sound very natural. I would say 'Do you understand...' rather than 'Have you already understood...' You could say 'Have you got that?' meaning 'Did you understand it?', which I think shows the difference quite well.

That said, there is a difference between 'believe' and 'understand' as concepts. While we consider (in spite of all evidence to the contrary!) our beliefs to be more or less permanent (just as we consider likes and loves to be permanent) we accept that our understanding changes. Thus we often say something like 'I think I've understood it' or 'If I've understood you correctly...'

As you can see, these are not grammatical issues but rather questions of how we frame certain concepts. They have more to do with social and psychological norms than language rules so I think it's really more a case of picking up the correct usage from exposure via reading, listening etc rather than learning a particular rule. At more advanced levels of language learning there's no substitute for that, I'm afraid!



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Mon, 07/08/2023 - 14:24


Could i say Marry is going to get married next week. Have you heard of that
B: Yes, I have. Mark told me yesterday.

Hello Khangvo2812,

I think we would say 'Have you heard?' rather than "have you heard of that', but otherwise the dialogue is fine. Well done!



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Mon, 07/08/2023 - 14:20


Could you tell me why in this case we use already know not have already known?
I already know that John is going to marry next week?

Hello Khangvo2812,

The sentence describes the speaker's current state of knowledge. Unless it's particularly important to highlight how long we have known it there is no reason to use the present perfect. Of course, in some contexts this may be important:

They're getting married!

I know. Have you only just heard? I've known about it for weeks.

Why didn't you tell me?



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by melvinthio on Sun, 06/08/2023 - 08:16


Hi Jonathan,
I'd like to ask a favour of you for my following questions.
[1] I've understood your question, I will reply soon.

(a) Is this sentence is grammatically correct ?
(b) Is it also grammatically correct to ask :
"Have you understood what I just explained to you?"

[2] I still haven't believed his information yet. I need to check it out later.

Is this sentence grammatically correct ?

[3] I've already known that John is getting married next week (incorrect).
Should we change "I've already known that..." to "I know that...", or "I knew that..." ?

I'd be grateful if you would give me your detailed explanation.

Best regards,

Hello Melvin,

[1] (a) Generally, it is considered bad style to join independent clauses with commas. You should use a full stop between the sentences or else use a conjunction such as 'and'.

[1] (b) Yes, that's fine.


[2] No, the sentence is not correct. Belief is not something we envisage changing, which is why we do not use the verb with progressive aspect (we say 'I believe...' not 'I am believing...'). For the same reason, we would not use 'I haven't believed it yet' as we would not anticipate our belief changing. We would use a verb like 'read', 'seen', 'familiarised myself with' etc.


[3] I think 'I already know' is the best option. 'I already knew' would need some time reference to anchor it in the past (Sue told me yesterday but I already knew) as otherwise it would suggest that you knew it in the past but not any more.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Khangvo2812 on Mon, 31/07/2023 - 14:27


Could you check my sensentence for grammar mistake?
Last month, I went online looking for a cleaning service company, after a while I still didn't find any companies that meet my requirements, but I found something that can help me clean my house, it is called X-box cleaning robot.

Hello Khangvo2812,

I would recommend making two changes. First of all, the verb 'meet' should be in the past simple ('met') because it describes a past situation.

Secondly, this is what's called a run-on sentence, which is not correct in standard written English (though it's OK in text messages). To fix this, I would break this into three sentences by changing the commas after 'company' and 'house' into full stops. That way you will have three complete sentences. If you want to learn more about run-on sentences, grammarly has a page on how to fix and prevent them.

I hope that makes sense, but if you have any more questions, let us know.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Instead of saying it is called X-box cleaning robot, could I say I found something that can help me clean my house called X-box cleaning robot?