Present perfect

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 mamun.pony on Sun, 02/08/2015 - 06:31

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sir i didnt find any help...u please answer my question...1.i have had husbands....what does it mean...does it mean i have now or i had before...please sir do answer...thank you -

Hello mamun.pony,

As we have said before, if you can please phrase the question in a normal way, with normal sentences, then we'll be happy to answer. It's very hard to understand this kind of list of thoughts separated by ...

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello mamun.pony,

The present perfect here suggests a time of 'some time in my life'. If I say 'I have had three cars' then it means that during my life I owned three cars.

'I have had husbands' means something similar. However, it makes little sense without some more information. For example:

I have had three husbands.

I have had two great husbands.

If we just wanted to state that we have been married then we would say:

I have been married.

The main problem with your questions is your use of ... between thoughts. This is not how we write in English. Use a full stop after the sentence, not '.....' and write in clear sentences; it will make your writing much easier to understand. As I said, look at the other questions posted on here and see how they are structured.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mar-shar on Fri, 21/12/2012 - 20:59

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We have bought a new car this week.

if i say: we bought a new car this week 

is it wrong? 

Hello,

Both of those sentences are good grammar and quite common in English. The difference is whether the speaker wants to emphasise the present situation or the past action. The is some more information about this on our grammar page called Talking about the past.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mahjid on Mon, 10/12/2012 - 06:39

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Hello Jeremy Bee; Thank you for the answer. I'm thinking about it. I'm sure that it'll be useful. Thank you again.

Submitted by mahjid on Wed, 05/12/2012 - 12:11

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Hello, At first I should thank you for providing these materials that are very useful for English learners like me.

Secondly I have some problems with the sentences like "They've been staying with us since last week

Does it mean that they aren't staying with us right now

I ask it because my teacher told me that present perfect continuous suggests that the action has ended just before now. So in this sentence , they left our house and they aren't there now. Is it true (I know that the present perfect continuous suggests that the action is not finished but it doesn't help me with the meaning of this sentence

Also I think that maybe its not important to know whether they are with us or not in the time of speaking

Thank you so much

Hello mahjid!

Those are good questions, but there are two slightly different ways we use the present perfect continuous.

One, as your teacher says, is when an action has ended just recently - but still has an effect on now:

A: Wow, your hair is really wet!

B: Yes - I have been swimming.

B isn't swimming now, but the fact that they went swimming still has an effect on now (B still has wet hair), so we use present perfect continuous to show there is a relationship between the past action and now.

However, we also use present perfect continuous the way you suggest, to mean started in the past but going on until now. In your example, the since suggests it is probably this second meaning, because since means from a time until now.


You can see some more examples of how to use perfect tense on our general page on the perfective aspect.

Hope that helps!

 

Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by laxmany on Thu, 18/10/2012 - 12:15

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Hi Adam,

"They have been married for nearly fifty years." is it present perfect? can you explain the role of (have,been,married)?

Hello laxmany, in the sentences you wrote it is present perfect because until now they have been married. It is an action that started in a point in the past and continues until now.

Regards!

Hello laxmany!

 

Yes, you're right; this is an example of present perfect. Have is an auxiliary verb; been is the past participle of be; married is an adjective.

Hope that helps!

 

Jeremy Bee

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Renatus on Thu, 11/10/2012 - 18:15

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Hello MR.Jones,

First of all, sorry for my elementary English and for any mistake in my writing.

I've just created my account in your site, so I can write to you about a problem.

It's the same problem that I've read from Mr.Frid above:

I can't open and do the exercises in my computers. I've got two, and both of them have the same problem today, whereas they didn't until yesterday.

Recently I haven't changed anything in my computers, so I don't know what it depends on.

Thank you for your website

 

Hello Renatus,

I'm afraid that today we are having some technical problems with our exercises. We are working hard to fix this, so please be patient and it will be fixed soon.

Nice to hear from you - thanks for registering!

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Adam,

thanks a lot for your prompt reply.

This morning everything is working correctly, and I'm happy.

I'm new in this site, so I don't know exactly how does it work.

I would ask if you usually correct the mistakes that learners make on their e-mails when you reply.

Have a good day,

Renatus

Hello Renatus,

Happy to help! Yes, we seem to have solved the problems.

We have many thousands of users on LearnEnglish, so I'm afraid we don't have time to correct all their writing.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by samamafahim on Fri, 24/08/2012 - 23:04

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If someone asks me "How long have you lived in Canada?" Then what should I reply? "I have lived there for five years" Will it be correct? Why? There is a time given in this sentence "5 years"? We cannot use Present perfect with those experiences in which the time is given relating to the past and the experience is finished. It finished in the past and this experience of living in Canada for five years has no connection with the present. So should I say, "I lived in Canada for 5 years?" Will it be correct?

Please reply me as soon as possible.

Thank you, 

Samama Fahim.

Submitted by paul29 on Fri, 25/05/2012 - 01:53

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Hi,

Can you please explain the section with "for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking".

Submitted by Survivor on Sun, 20/05/2012 - 06:40

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Hello, I'm Survivor and I would like to know where are the mistakes in the following sentences: "A woman has been shopping at the mall at 5 p.m." and "We have talked about the economy in the coffee shop at 6 p.m."

I appreciate your attention,

Hello Survivor,

In your sentences you made the form of the Present Perfect correctly, but these are not sentences where the Present Perfect is the best verb form. Read about ways to describe the past for more information.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Frid on Mon, 20/02/2012 - 13:24

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Hiii....I'm Frid and I'm just starting to learn English..

what's the different between:

1.He has worked there for three months now
2.He has been working there for three months now

 

Submitted by sasan442 on Wed, 15/02/2012 - 02:10

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hi

are these two sentences  correct???

i have been palying the guitar ever since i was a teenager,

he has been writting three books and he is working on another one.

Submitted by kragchik on Fri, 10/02/2012 - 19:58

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hi Adam,how are you,please if anyone can teach me how to use can or could pls

Submitted by A R Bhat on Wed, 18/01/2012 - 13:15

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Please let me know which among 'Present Perfect' and 'Present Perfect Continuous' tenses is preferable to use.Please provide 'charts' explaining the tenses and their usage in detail, if possible.I would really be grateful to you.

Hello Raashid,

See my reply to magnoly below for more information about the difference between the Present Perfect and the Present Perfect Continuous.

Thanks for your suggestion of charts. I've never seen a good chart of English verb forms, but it might be something worth working on. In the meantime, there are detailed explanations of the usage of English verbs on this site.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by magnoly on Tue, 17/01/2012 - 23:05

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hello

I've just finished learning this lesson;it's such useful and helpful; I've been confused with these two tenses for i started learning English ; It look more clear than before now ; but I have a question.I see that we use  the present perfect and the present perfect continuous in the same cases ; why then there are two forms to express one time? would you explain me; please?

thank you.

Hello,

The difference between the present prefect and the present perfect continuous is, of course, that one uses the continuous aspect (click on that link to find out more) and the other doesn't.

If you think about it. the perfect aspect also can be used to talk about events at the same time as non-perfect verbs. For example, 'She'd met him before.' (past perfect) and 'She met him last week' (past simple) both talk about the same time, the past.

So the continuous and perfective aspects aren't just about time, they are about the way that an event or situation is described. To describe it in a very general way, the continuous aspect describes something as being in progress and the perfective aspect describes something as being completed.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,

Adam

The LearnEnglish Team