Present perfect

Learn about the present perfect and do the exercises to practise using it.

Level: beginner

The present perfect is formed from the present tense of the verb have and the past participle of a verb.

We use the present perfect:

  • for something that started in the past and continues in the present:

They've been married for nearly fifty years.
She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

  • when we are talking about our experience up to the present:

I've seen that film before.
I've played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.

We often use the adverb ever to talk about experience up to the present:

My last birthday was the worst day I have ever had.

and we use never for the negative form:

Have you ever met George?
Yes, but I've never met his wife.

Present perfect 1

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Present perfect 2

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  • for something that happened in the past but is important in the present:

I can't get in the house. I've lost my keys.
Teresa isn't at home. I think she has gone shopping.

Present perfect 3

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Present perfect 4

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have been and have gone

We use have/has been when someone has gone to a place and returned:

A: Where have you been?
B: I've just been out to the supermarket.

A: Have you ever been to San Francisco?
B: No, but I've been to Los Angeles.

But when someone has not returned, we use have/has gone:

A: Where's Maria? I haven't seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She'll be back tomorrow.
 

have been and have gone

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Present perfect with time adverbials 

We often use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to the recent past:

recently just only just

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey.
We have just got back from our holidays.

or adverbials which include the present:

so far     until now     up to now
ever
(in questions)
yet (in questions and negatives)

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Where have you been up to now?
A: Have you finished your homework yet?
B: No, so far I've only done my history.

After a clause with the present perfect we often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

I've worked here since I left school.
I've been watching that programme every week since it started.

Present perfect with time adverbials 1

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Present perfect with time adverbials 2

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Be careful!
We do not use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a finished past time:
yesterday last week/month/year in 2017 when I was younger etc.

I have seen that film yesterday.
We have just bought a new car last week.
When we were children we have been to California.

but we can use the present perfect with adverbials which refer to a time which is not yet finished:
today this week/month/year now that I am 18 etc.

Have you seen Helen today?
We have bought a new car this week.

Present perfect and past simple 1

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Present perfect and past simple 2

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Level: intermediate

Present perfect continuous

The present perfect continuous is formed with have/has been and the -ing form of the verb.

We normally use the present perfect continuous to emphasise that something is still continuing in the present:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It's been raining for hours.
I'm tired out. I've been working all day.
They have been staying with us since last week.

We do not normally use the present perfect continuous with stative verbs. We use the present perfect simple instead:

I've always been liking liked John.

Present perfect continuous 1

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Present perfect continuous 2

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Present perfect for future

We normally use the present simple to talk about the future in clauses with before, after, until, etc.:

I'll keep looking until I find my book.
We'll begin when everyone arrives.

but we can also use the present perfect:

I'll keep looking until I have found my book.
We'll begin when everyone has arrived.

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Submitted by Liam_Kurt on Tue, 22/11/2022 - 13:46

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Hello, I have been thinking about this sentence for a long time.
"Every time I visit him he has been playing with his toys"
The grammar book says that each action of playing toys is before each action of visiting him. So, first the boy would play with his toys then I would visit him while he either has stopped playing or is still playing.
From what I understand of the present perfect continuous it is used when an action from the past continues to the present. In this sentence is it not continuing to each time of visiting him instead of the present so shouldn't the past perfect be used?

Hello Liam_Kurt,

I hesitate to say this without knowing more about your grammar book's explanation, but I wouldn't say this sentence is correct in most situations. In a very specific situation -- e.g. you regularly visit a boy and on each visit you see his toys on the floor (suggesting he's played with them) but he's not playing with them at the moment and all of these details are important to your point -- it could work, but I can't imagine any others. Perhaps that says more about my poor imagination; I'm not sure. 

If these precise details are not important, then 'Every time I visit him he's playing with his toys' is far more likely. The present continuous could mean that you see him actually playing with the toys every time, but it doesn't necessarily mean this -- it could be just that you see evidence of him having played with the toys quite recently.

We have a page on the Present perfect continuous and simple if you'd like to read more and have a bit more practice of this grammar point.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Amir.h__760__ on Thu, 20/10/2022 - 18:46

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Hello team support
Is this sentence grammatically correct:
Extremists have reached power in this country and have implemented this strict rule.
( they reached power about 30 years ago but they are still in power and also That rule exists) so tell me in this. (I don't wanna mention the time.) circumstance; is it true to say that?
Best regards

Hello  Amir.h__760__,

I think the past simple is more appropriate here as 'reach' and 'implement' are things which occur at a particular moment. After that, power is held and the rule is maintained. Thus, you could say either of these:

Extremists reached/took/seized power in this country and implemented/brought in/imposed this strict rule.

 

 

I'm loathe to suggest sentences here, to be honest, as without knowing the context in which they will be used it's really a guess and I may suggest something that does not fit. It could be that a present simple form is better (...hold power...), for example. Without knowing the context it's impossible to say.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again
Thank you for responding mate,but I'm still confused about why past simple? Because they are still in power; their governing have not ended yet.
Best regards

Hello Amir,

It's because of the nature of the actions these verbs talk about. We 'reach power' and 'implement a rule' in a relatively short amount of time; it could be in a few seconds or over several months, but in general these are not activities that continue over time. In contrast, we can say that then power is held over a length of time, or a rule is in force for a length of time, but the actions that 'hold' and 'be in force' refer to are different -- they speak about duration in a different way than 'reach power' or 'implement a rule'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again

Thank you, I got it completely.

There is a another question. Last night I was watching the lord of the rings, and something was paid my attention.

It goes like this:
That line was broken
But it has been remade

Why present perfect here? Here is a link to that part of movie. ----

Hello Amir,

Yes, I'm familiar with that scene! The King of the Dead is referring to Isildur's bloodline, which everyone except for a handful of people believed had been extinguished. This is why he uses a past simple form.

Aragorn, who is the last in Isildur's bloodline, is living proof that the line is in fact not broken. He is alive now and the present perfect form shows his connection with the line. He himself is the living connection between past and present.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ilovekeerthysu… on Sun, 02/10/2022 - 09:44

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Can the below sentences be used as example for present prefect tense
I have just listened to the music and started writing a book
I have completed playing games and now studying for the exams.

Hi ilovekeerthysuresh1992,

The present perfect in the first sentence is correctly written. (In general, though, it would be "listened to music", unless you and the listener are talking about a specific piece of music.)

In the second sentence, "I have completed playing games" is correctly written, though "finished" may be a better word than "completed" here. Also, it should be "I am now studying".

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Faii on Wed, 07/09/2022 - 16:53

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It says in my grammar book,"A present tense with for refers to duration into the future "
So is it correct to say -"I'm in Italy for three days"?Would there be any difference if I used " I'll be in Italy for three days?"
Thanks in advance

Hello Faii,

Both of the sentences you ask about are grammatically correct and in some cases you could use either one and it would be appropriate. It really depends on the situation and what you want to say.

Our Talking about the future page explains the ways we use different tenses to refer to different actions in the future.

Perhaps I've misunderstood what your book is explaining, but I'm not sure I agree with that statement. For example, you can use 'for' with a present perfect form to refer to the recent past and present, e.g. 'I've lived her for 10 years'.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by melvinthio on Wed, 07/09/2022 - 09:43

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Hi Jonathan,
I quote the following two sentences from my grammar books:

[1a] I've gone to concerts ever since I've lived in London.

[2a] I haven't been to the theater for ages.

Question :
What are the differences between the above sentences with the following sentences respectively ?

[1b] I've been to concerts ever since I've lived in London.

[2b] I haven't gone to the theater for ages.

Your detailed explanation would be highly appreciated.

Best regards,

Hello melvinthio,

I expect you're familiar with the idea that the present perfect of 'be' can be used to mean we have gone to a place and returned from it. For example, 'Have you ever been to Norway?' is a question about whether someone has gone there in their life or not; right now, the speaker and that person are not in Norway, so it's obvious that the person has returned from any trip to Norway they may have made.

Similarly, if someone calls my house and asks if Núria is home, I can say 'No, I'm afraid she's gone out' to mean she left some time ago and isn't back yet; saying 'No, I'm afraid she's been out' would not be correct in this case, as it suggests she has already come home.

To my eyes, and without knowing the situation or intentions of the speaker, sentences 1a and 1b are both situations in which the speaker is not currently at a concert. In a situation such as this one, there's no real difference in meaning between them.

The same is true of sentences 2a and 2b.

As you can, the grammar by itself doesn't make meaning; it has to be deployed in an appropriate situation for it to work.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Tue, 30/08/2022 - 19:24

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Hello. Could you please help me? Is the following sentence grammatically correct using "a few days" with "has gone to"?

- You can't see Tom before Wednesday. He has gone to London for a few days on business.

Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Yes, that sentence is fine. It tells us that Tom has already left and that his trip has not finished yet. Well done!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AboWasel on Sat, 23/07/2022 - 19:27

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Hello Sir,
First, I am very sorry for my repeated questions, but these tenses really make me very confused.
I read the page you mentioned and I found it very helpful, but I have more questions that will determine if I fully understand or still not.
1- Which is correct?
I have waited 3 hours already.{Does it mean that it is a completed action that I waited, but now I am with who I came to see}Or{I have been waiting 3 hours already. {Is it means that I am still waiting?}}
2- I have been planting flowers all day so the garden looks amazing.
In this example, using the present perfect continuous we are focusing on the effort which makes the garden different.{I see from his look that he worked all day, whether I saw the garden or not}
I have planted flowers all day so the garden looks amazing.
In this one we focus on the result I see now what the garden has become
Another example from that page {the grass looks wet. Has it been raining?}
By using the present perfect continuous tense we are focused on the action itself which is raining
The grass looks wet. Has it rained? Here on the result. Is it right or not?
3- when we numbered something we use present perfect simple like{I have drunk 4 cups of coffee this day not I have been drinking 4 cups of coffee this day} is that right?
Finally, I read this example and I want to know if it is right?
She has finished the report since two weeks ago. {Is it finished or unfinished period of time?}

Hi AboWasel,

No problem. I'll try to answer your questions :)

1. Yes, the meanings of both sentences are as you explained.

2. I think you've generally got the right idea. But the idea of seeing evidence of the recent activity is associated with the present perfect continuous.

Also, if a speaker wants to put the focus on something, grammar is one way to do that - but it isn't the only way. There may also be changes in vocabulary, word order, the content of the sentence, voice stress (for example), together with grammar, so that the speaker's focus is clear. For instance, in the example "The grass looks wet. Has it rained?" Yes, it's possible that the speaker wants to focus on the result here. But asking the question at the end seems to take the focus away from the result ("the grass looks wet"). If the speaker wants to focus on the result, it would be clearer if the sentences are reversed, for example: "Has it rained? The grass looks wet." That way, the result gains more focus because it is at the end. It seems like it's the main topic.

So, if you change the present perfect continuous to present perfect simple in a sentence (or vice versa), the difference in meaning/focus may be quite subtle. You may find clearer examples if you look for examples in context (i.e., in full texts).

3. Yes, that's right. Let me add some corrections for the final sentence.

  • If you state the time when an action was done (e.g. "two weeks ago"), the past simple is normally used (not present perfect).
  • "Since" is normally used with a named time (e.g. since Monday), not with "ago" phrases, and it shows something happening from that time until now. However, she finished the report on one day. She didn't finish it continuously from then until now.

So, it should be --> She finished the report two weeks ago.

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much.
I learn a lot from this amazing site and your helpful answers.
Based on what you explained in the last example in number 3 I understand that {since/for} doesn't combine with any finished words such as {yesterday/ago/last/once...}

Hi AboWasel,

Actually that's not quite the idea. "Since" and "for" are a bit different.

  • "Since" is used with a named time (e.g. since yesterday, since 1985, since last week, since 11 o'clock). "Since" means from then until now.
  • "For" is used with a period of time (e.g. for three years, for several hours, for a long time). "For" just shows the length of time. Unlike "since", it doesn't show when the time period actually started or finished. It does not need to be a time period that continues until now (e.g., "I lived in New York for three years in the 1990s." - a period of three years that was in the past.)

I hope that helps!

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you, Sir
You got me wrong. What I meant was using {since/for} with {last/once/yesterday/ago} with present perfect not generally.
I think I can use since with last in the present perfect. Right?

Hi AboWasel,

We can use "since" and "for" with the present perfect, e.g.:

  • I've lived in London for one year. / I've lived in London since 2021. / I've lived in London since last year.
  • I've been studying hard since yesterday.
  • I've been studying hard for hours.

"Since" and "for" can't be used with "once". "Since ... ago" is grammatically possible (e.g. since two years ago), but it's more common to say it in another way (e.g. since 2020 / for two years).

"Last", "yesterday" and "ago" can be used with the past simple as well. "Once" can only be used with the past simple, not present perfect.

  • I lived in London last year.
  • I studied hard yesterday.
  • I studied hard many years ago.
  • I studied hard once.

Sorry, the question wasn't clear for me but I hope that helps to answer it.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AboWasel on Fri, 22/07/2022 - 17:22

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Hello Sir,
I have a question about the difference between present perfect simple and present perfect continuous for example..
Recenrly, i have written 3 books.
Recently, I have been writing 3 books.
please, can you explain it for me in a simple way?
Thanks.

Hi AboWasel,

Thanks for your question. Try this link: Present perfect and continuous 

I think that page has the explanation that you are looking for. But if you have more questions, feel free to write them here or on the other page and we'll try to help :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AboWasel on Wed, 20/07/2022 - 17:29

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Hello Sir,
I would like to ask about the usage of prsesnt perfect with future.
Is there any difference in meaning between th examples you gave?

I'll keep looking until I find my book.
We'll begin when everyone arrives.

but we can also use the present perfect:

I'll keep looking until I have found my book.
We'll begin when everyone has arrived.

Hi AboWasel,

No, there's no difference in meaning, although the present perfect sentences perhaps emphasise more that the actions (finding the book / people arriving) are fully completed.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Thu, 07/07/2022 - 06:45

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Hello, Sir
I have an interesting question which made me Muddul headed. Indeed, while going through an article, I came across to that sentence. Indeed, it is a error spoting question.
"His speech was very thought provoking and well appreciated by them who attended the Economic Forum held in Davos."
My question is related to Passive Voice of this sentence. When i asked to a teacher, He said to me " Here, Change 'them' into 'those' because we can't use them before a relative pronoun". But i doubt on the passive form of it.
If we make simple sentences of this complex one. Then, i think these should be
1) His speech was very thought provoking.
2) His speech was well appreciated by them.
But as I've mentioned above my doubt regards passive voice
As far as I can understand, His speech was appreciated by them, it makes sense of passive voice.
But I haven't seen that 'well' is used as an adverb between Helping verb and Main verb. For example, 'He worked well', whether We can say 'He well worked' or 'He is well working'. When i raised this issue with the teacher. He said to me" 'Appreciated' has been used as a past participle which is working as an adjective." As i have mentioned and in my opinion The 2) sentence "His speech was well appreciated should be restructured as " His speech was appreciated well by them". If I'm wrong then make me correct, Sir
Thank you.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

The original sentence you came across is not grammatically correct. As your teacher pointed out, 'them' is not correct as the antecedent of the relative clause; 'those' would correct this error.

To be honest, I'm not completely sure what to say about sentence 2. First of all, it sounds a little awkward to me -- a wording that I would avoid -- but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's incorrect. With a phrase like 'by them', it certainly does appear to be a passive construction. But, on the other hand, if we remove 'by them' from 2, I'd say that 'well appreciated' was the adjectival complement after the linking verb 'was' -- in other words, it's not a passive construction.

There are a number of adjectives that are often preceded by the adverb 'well' -- 'well adjusted', 'well advised', 'well appointed', 'well argued' and 'well attended' are just a few -- but of course these are adjective phrases used after a link verb, i.e. they are not used in passives (as far as I know).

So I haven't completely answered your question, but I hope that at least helps you make more sense of the matter.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Tue, 31/05/2022 - 06:31

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Hello Sir,
I'm to ask a question which is related to an Noun Phrase. While I was reading a online article, i got this noun phrase with two sentences
. The Noun Phrase is
"At no time was/did"
I'm mentioning two sentences based on this noun phrase.
1) At no time did anyone involved speak to the press.
2) At no time was the company informed.
Plz make me understand regards both these sentences.
Thank you

Hello Kapil Kabir,

At no time is an idiomatic phrase which mean 'never' and it is followed by an inverted verb phrase:

Verb phrase - (1) anyone involved spoke  (2) the company was informed

Inverted verb phrase - (1) did anyone involved speak  (2) was the company informed

 

There are a number of phrases like this which use 'no': no sooner, no longer, at no point, under no circumstances, on no account etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Kapil Kabir on Thu, 26/05/2022 - 12:45

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Hello Sir,
I wanna ask a question, which is related to the verb "Be" and preposition "Of".
I got this sentence while reading a book. The sentence is
*) Pronouncing a word carefully is of no help in spelling it properly.
My question is that
Can we rewrite the sentence
*) Pronouncing a word carefully is no help in spelling it properly.
Without having "Of" preposition just after verb "Be"
Does it(Removing of Preposition "Of") affect the meaning of sentence.
If not, then what the sentence means.

Please Elaborate it....
Thank you.

Hello Kapil Kabir,

Yes, it is OK to omit the word 'of' from this and similar sentences and the two variants mean the same thing.

To be honest, I'm not sure why we say 'of' in this and similar cases (e.g. 'it's of no use'). It might have to do with the extensive influence of Old French on English, but that's just a guess on my part.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by dostyamiine on Sun, 10/04/2022 - 02:44

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Hello, please I need your help.
I've read that stative verbs are not used with present perfect simple. However, they can be used with present perfect when they are used with time expressions.
●I have liked you ( incorrect)
●I have liked you all my life. (Correct)
●I have known him. ( incorrect)
●I have known him for ten years. (Correct)
My question is: is this information right or wrong??????????????

Hello dostyamiine,

Yes, you can use present perfect with and without time references.

If no time reference is stated then we understand the time to be 'at some point up to now'. Thus, a sentence like 'I have liked you' is possible if you want to say 'I didn't always dislike you'. Obviously, this kind of context is quite rare but it can be found: I have liked jazz in the past, but now I'm more into rock. However, other forms are more common, such as 'used to' for this sense.

When a time reference is used with present perfect then it must be an open time reference (unfinished time/time up to the present), like those in your examples (all my life, for ten years).

 

Some verbs are understood to describe states which do not change, such as knowing a person. When we know someone, we know them for ever so we do not use these verbs without a time reference.

 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team