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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Hi Karzan~ The wrong one is the second, which's in the word "melting of the mountains". Plz check if's correct or not ;)

Submitted by Anomadassi on Wed, 04/02/2015 - 15:29

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hello dear sir and BC team, I'm a new comer on this site.And my English is not good sorry for that. I'm delighted to use your site and it's extremely help me to improve my English language skills. make sure, I know all the verb tenses which are those can say by heart and other some important grammar rules too. however, I have more doubt about rules when I speak.but It's a bit ok as I write.so please tell me what I want to do to develop my English and to get rid of the fear of speaking in English. Thank you.

Hello Anomadassi,

The most important thing you can do is to speak English as often as possible. To do this a partner is very helpful, so think about the people you know and consider if any of them could be a practice partner for you. It may be that you know someone else who is also learning English and who would like to practise with you, or perhaps you know some people who do not speak your language but do speak English.

However, if you do not have a practice partner it does not mean that you cannot practise because it is possible to practise alone. Just speaking English to yourself while you are at home, going about your normal daily activities, can help a great deal with your fluency and can help you to feel more confident, which will help you to cut down your hesitating. 

You can also use the audio and video materials here on LearnEnglish to improve your fluency. After doing the exercises, try listening with the transcript (listening and reading). Then try saying the text yourself, and finally try saying it with (and at the same speed as) the recording. This will help you to develop speed in your speech, which is a key component of fluency. You'll also pick up a lot of language as chunks - words which are often used together in set phrases - which you can use to communicate with less hesitation.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Karzan_Camus on Fri, 16/01/2015 - 17:28

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Hello, teachers. Please, if you could tell me the difference between (so far and yet) with respect to Present Perfect???

Hello Karzan_Camus,

With negative sentences we use 'yet' to mean 'up to this point in time' and 'so far' to mean 'at this point in the process'. In other words, 'so far' suggests that there is a process which has a particular length or expected conclusion. Often this distinction is not important, but in some contexts it is. For example, we use 'yet' when talking about our whole lives up to now:

I haven't been to Spain yet.

However, we would use 'so far' if there were a defined process, such as a trip around Europe in which a visit to Spain is likely:

I haven't been to Spain so far.

We don't use 'yet' with positive sentences, but we can use 'so far' when there is a sequence which will continue, but has not finished:

I've been to Spain three times so far. [...and I'll go there again]

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mahmoud Darwesh on Tue, 06/01/2015 - 12:55

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What the difference between the following sentences: The letter has received by John The letter has been received by John The letter is received by John The letter was received by John Thank you for your cooperation,

Hello Kak Serwan Sheran,

The first sentence is incorrect.

The second sentence is an example of a present perfect passive form.

The third sentence is an example of a present simple passive form.

The fourth sentence is an example of a past simple passive form.

You can find descriptions of all these forms, their meanings and their uses on the relevant grammar pages (see the links on the right of this page). Please take a look and tell us your understanding of the differences; then we will comment and let you know if you have understood correctly.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mahmoud Darwesh on Tue, 06/01/2015 - 12:33

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Pease tell us if this sentence is correct or not Dear All, Please find the attached file related to Variation Order No 0068, which has signed by Mr. Özel. Thank you for your time,

Hello Kak Serwan Sheran,

The last part of the sentence should read '...which has been signed by...' (a passive construction).

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Peter Nguyen01 on Tue, 30/12/2014 - 16:57

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Hi Teacher, Kindly help me to understand the exact meaning of below sentences. "I have signed labour contract with company" and "I signed labour contract with company". I know about verb form of them but I don't understand the exact meaning of them and how to use. Thanks so much for your help.

Hello Peter,

The verb form in the first sentence is the present perfect, and the verb form in the second one is the past simple. I'd suggest you read our pages on those two forms, and also watch the video on the Word on the Street Transport and Travel Scene 2 Language Focus page, where Rob discusses this topic.

If you have any further questions after that, please let us know.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Imran Baig on Thu, 18/12/2014 - 10:15

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Hi teacher, Is this sentence correct "Ali doesn’t have Ferrari."

Hello Imran Baig,

If you're talking about a car then you need the indefinite article:

Ali doesn't have a Ferrari.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Neda k on Sat, 06/12/2014 - 21:34

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Hi I read your articles and they were very helpful. There was only a question on my mind which is if I want to say it's been 3 years that I have not spoken English, is that correct? Or should I say I have not spoken English for 3 years? Which is correct? Or if both are correct which one is more common and more used in everyday communication? And one other question, is this note that I wrote grammatically correct? I was wondering how much I make mistakes while I speak English :) Thanks a lot

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 07/12/2014 - 21:58

In reply to by Neda k

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Hello Neda k,

You can say either 'It's been 3 years since I have spoken English' or 'I have not spoken English for 3 years'.

We use 'since' with a point of time (here, the point of time is 'the last time I spoke English') and 'for' with a period of time (here, 'three years').

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cooljust on Thu, 27/11/2014 - 13:37

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Hi! I'm glad I stumbled on this site. I was wondering maybe you guys could help me with perfect tenses. It's a nightmare. I’ve played the guitar ever since I was a teenager. is it ok to just simply say 'I played guitar since I was a teenager'? I can’t get in the house. I’ve lost my keys. would it be fine if I say '... . I lost my keys'? We have just got back from our holidays. Is this ok? We just got back... . Is it ok to leave out the word 'have' coz they seem grammatical to me? I know in some instances it'd be awkward not to include 'have'. Lastly, what is wrong with 'I have seen that film yesterday'.? I know 'I have seen that film' is fine, but what if you wanted specify that it was yesterday? I was thinking maybe I'll just have to rephrase. I'd be delighted to see your thoughts. Thanks!

Hello cooljust,

1. The normal form here would be 'have played'. This is explained in the first point on this page: 'We use the present perfect tense for something that started in the past and continues in the present.'

2. 'I lost my keys' implies this is an event in the past without any particular result now; 'I've lost my keys' tells the listener that this is news which is relevant now - i.e. it means '...and so I can't open the door'.

3. In rapid speech we often omit the 'have'. However, in written English it should be included.

4. The present perfect is used when the time is unfinished and continues up to the present, or when no time is specified. 'Yesterday' is a finished time so therefore we cannot use the present perfect.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by shashank_sharma on Mon, 24/11/2014 - 05:50

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Hello, I want to know 1.what is the difference in both sentences. (2)hope you said in 1. sentence action has completed while in 2. sentence it is going on "AM I RIGHT SIR?" but when did i read (Note: We normally use the present perfect continuous for this:) meaning of both sentences are same? aren't then tell me differences. Thanks 1.She has lived in Liverpool all her life. 2.She has been living in Liverpool all her life.

Hi shashank_sharma,

I'm afraid I don't understand what you're asking in the first paragraph of your comment.

As for the two sentences, I think it would be better if first you read our Present Perfect Simple and Continuous page, and then if you explained to us what you think the differences are. This will be a useful exercise for you and will allow us to see how you think so we can better help you.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Khallaf on Wed, 05/11/2014 - 12:15

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hi what is the difference between saying "she's been living in liverpool all her life" and "she 's lived in liverpool all her life" thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 05/11/2014 - 14:42

In reply to by Ahmed Khallaf

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Hi Ahmed,

This is a very subtle distinction in this context and is largely dependent on what the speaker wishes to emphasise rather than any fixed grammar rule. Fortunately, we have a page with a detailed explanation, with many examples and with an exercise to practise this very point. You can find it here.

Best wishes

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mkashifk on Fri, 10/10/2014 - 05:17

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sir what should be the correct sentence if i want to tell when i saw the movie? "I have seen that film yesterday". thank you.

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 10/10/2014 - 08:19

In reply to by mkashifk

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Hello mkashifk,

If you saw the film yesterday, you should use the past simple to speak about it: 'I saw that film yesterday.' You can read more about this on our talking about the past and past simple pages.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nazar973 on Thu, 14/08/2014 - 11:15

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Please explain me,why the present perfect is used in this sentence "Google has said it will give preference to more secure websites in its search rankings from now on."???
Hello Nazar, It's one of the reasons listed on this page - about halfway down! Best wishes, Adam The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by orton on Wed, 06/08/2014 - 19:18

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Sir please do some courtesy to answer my question.. i only want to ask - Actually sir one of my friend says that in present perfect continuous tense if the time period is not mentioned then it means that the action has just stopped..But i dont agree with his statement..i believe that the continuity of the action is totally independent of the time period.. For example.. i have been playing football My friend says " the action has stopped recently because the time period is not mentioned.. Had it been i have been playing football for 2 hours then it would mean that action is still continuing " but i say " the continuity of the action is independent of the time period..it can mean both depending on the context..Maybe he is still playing or maybe he has just stopped playing " So Sir who is right ?? Me or my friend ?? I'm too confused..Waiting for your reply

Hi orton,

When the time period is not mentioned, there is a suggestion that the action is not in process at the moment of speaking, but this is not explicit and there are some contexts in which this is not true (e.g. 'I've been reading this book.' - it could be that I've got the book open on my lap, or it could be on the shelf). This means that the present perfect continuous refers to a general action, not to a specific moment, as it can be used to refer to actions that have finished or are still in process. So if a time period is mentioned, the present perfect continuous suggests it's incomplete, but it doesn't indicate whether the action wil be continued or not. Context is far more determinate of meaning than most people realise.

As I think we've mentioned to you before, we're not generally able to answer lots of questions from the same user. Nor is our primary purpose to answer questions that aren't directly related to the site. We are a small team with lots of work and millions of users who ask dozens of questions every day. As much as we'd like to be able to answer any question from anyone all the time, to be fair to the other users and to be able to maintain and improve the site, we just can't do that. In the future, if a question of yours remains unanswered for a time, please be patient - we will get to it as soon as we can. There is no need to repeat your question or ask us why we haven't answered it yet.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by orton on Mon, 04/08/2014 - 15:51

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In your suggested page it says - "i have been reading the book you lent me" means that the action is not completed at the moment of speaking..So does this means that he/she is still reading the book at the time of speaking ?? Regarding the sentence - My hands are dirty because i have been playing football. i suppose this sentence means that the action has just stopped..Right ?? If the sentence is - i have been playing football.. Does this mean that the action is still continuing or the action has just stopped..OR can it mean both ??? Actually sir one of my friend says that in present perfect continuous tense if the time period is not mentioned then it means that the action has just stopped..But i dont agree with his statement..i believe that the continuity of the action is totally independent of the time period.. For example.. i have been playing football My friend says " the action has stopped recently because the time period is not mentioned.. Had it been i have been playing football for 2 hours then it would mean that action is still continuing " but i say " the continuity of the action is independent of the time period..it can mean both depending on the context..Maybe he is still playing or maybe he has just stopped playing " So Sir who is right ?? Me or my friend ?? I'm too confused..Waiting for your reply Thanks

Submitted by orton on Sat, 02/08/2014 - 21:16

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i have been reading book. i have been reading book for 2 hours. Does both the sentence means that he/she is still reading book..or has he/she just finished reading book..?? The reason I am asking this question is that present perfect continus tense is used for an action which started in the the past and is still continuing or for an action which have stopped recently...So how do we get to know that the action has just stopped or is still continuing ??? Kirk sir plz help me out

Hello orton,

Both of these sentences imply that the action was not complete at the moment of speaking, though the context is important.

You can find more information on the uses of the present perfect simple and continuous - including some discussion of just this example - on this page.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by MamaAisha on Thu, 31/07/2014 - 16:12

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Hi..help me in these questions. 1. Where have you been? 2. Where have you been before? 3.Where have you been up to now? Then I answer 1. I'v just been out watching the football match. This answer is for the first two questions meaning that someone asked me on the recent past place i had been before meeting him. am i right? If not what is the difference btn the two questions? 2. I'v been in the laundry washing my clothes. This is the answer for the third question meaning that he asked me for the recent place I'v been till the moment of speakig. Am I right?

Submitted by orton on Mon, 28/07/2014 - 20:13

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I am having a problem understanding the meaning of a sentence that uses the present perfect continuous without stating a period of time (how long, since, for, etc). Can the sentence still indicate that the activity is happening from the past until now if time period is not mentioned? If the time period is mentioned, can the sentence means that the activity was recent or just ended? I have been looking forward to the holiday. Does this sentence mean that I am still looking forward to the holiday and that it is not currently the holiday? Or does this sentence mean that I have stopped looking forward to the holiday since I am on hday now? Or can it mean both? I have been feeling sad. Does this sentence mean that I am still feeling sad now? Or does it mean that I felt sad before and that I no longer feel sad now? Or can it mean both ?? The reason I am asking this question is that present perfect continus tense is used for an action which started in the the past and is still continuing or for an action which have stopped recently...So how do we get to know that the action has just stopped or is still continuing ??? Kirk sir plz help me out

Submitted by preetam saha on Mon, 28/07/2014 - 16:29

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Please mention the time period till when we can explain past action with with present perfect

Hello preetam saha,

There is no set time period for the present perfect: it can be used for actions which began only recently (I have just read this book) or actions which began an extremely long time ago (The Sun has been shining for over 4.5 billion years). The fact that the action is still ongoing, or has some present relevance or result, is the key, not the length of the action.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by preetam saha on Mon, 28/07/2014 - 16:20

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Sir I had a look on the page that u reffered me but Sir I m am afraid that couldn't solve my doubt that I had please make simple for me.please explain me from that sentence that I stated

Submitted by preetam saha on Sun, 27/07/2014 - 16:34

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respected sir, could u please answer some of my questions .1st questions that what kind of tense should we use after present perfect tense , is it past or present.for ex i have asked him if he could sing or i have asked him if he can sing.2nd is that you have told that present perfect tense describes something which has happened recently now could you please tell the tome period 1 day or 2 days .and if anything happens it gets over and becomes past then why cant we use past perfect is that we can only use past perfect when some one is dead

Hello preetam saha,

As the present perfect is a present tense, the present simple form 'can' is the form you should use in the sentence you ask about in your first question.

The difference you are working to understand in your second question is the difference between the present perfect and the past simple, which is explained in some detail on our talking about the past page. Please have a look there, and then if you have a question, please feel free to ask it there.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Henry Kamei on Tue, 22/07/2014 - 06:37

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Sir! would it be correct to say and how? She has been a native of Liverpool.But now she is in San Francisco..... plis clariy my doubt regarding usage of : has been

Hello Henry,

No, the present perfect is not correct here. You are a native of only one place, the place you were born. Since this person is still alive, the present simple would be used here: 'She is a native of Liverpool, but now lives in San Francisco' (or something similar).

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nazar973 on Tue, 15/07/2014 - 00:51

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Please help! Why wasn't a question:"Who won"?(in the game) used in present perfect tence?it seems to me this action has a result with a present:someone is a winner of a game,isn't it?

Hello Nazar973,

You're right - as is explained above, the present perfect can be used to speak about 'something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking', and so it is often used to report recent events. However, if the event is not considered recent, the simple past is more appropriate. The simple past is also more common in American English, and is also used more and more in newspaper headlines to save space (as the simple past is usually shorter than the present perfect).

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pipo363 on Wed, 09/07/2014 - 12:06

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I have many doubts in the present perfect: First: Can I say "I have been in a football game" It happened last saturday but it wasn't necessary.Today is Tuesday. I've done that in that in my test and the teacher put a cross.The aim of the composition was to write about the weekend.If I am wrong could you correct me, please.Could you explain me better the present perfect ? HUGS Filipe

Hi Pipo363,

If the game was Saturday and today is Tuesday, then no, you should not use the present perfect in English - you should use the past simple. The game finished on Saturday and presumably has no connection to today, and so the present perfect doesn't work.

Our talking about the past page might also be a useful resource for you. I'd also recommend this episode from Word on the Street to better understand the present perfect, and this episode to better understand the difference betweent the present perfect and past simple.

I hope this helps you - let us know if you have any other questions.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pipo363 on Tue, 08/07/2014 - 09:27

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Hello! It's the first possibility I have to talk with you. I'm portuguese I have a doubt: what is right I have learned cello since I was a kid. I have been learning cello since I was a kid. I coutinue studying cello Can you explain me better the p.perfect and the past simple, please? The last:''No way'' means the same than ''I can't believe it!'', doesn't it? Hugs, Pipo363

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 08/07/2014 - 22:19

In reply to by Pipo363

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Hello Pipo363,

Both the first and the second sentences are correct (though we use 'the' with musical instruments and so we would say 'the cello').  I think the second is better as it emphasises the duration/process of learning, but both are correct.

The third sentence is not very natural.  A better (similar) sentence would be 'I am still studying the cello'.  This, of course, does not tell us how long you have been studying, simply that you are doing it now and not stopping.

'No way!' is used in that way in US English.  In British English 'No way!' means that something is not possible or that we will not allow it.

I hope that answers your questions.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Abdul Qadir on Thu, 03/07/2014 - 17:46

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Hi LearnEnglish Team, Sometimes I really confuse about usage of these two tenses please help me to understand as I want to say that I am learning English right now I started three years ago and now I am still learning, in this situation can I use both of these tenses ! 1- I have been learning English for three years now. is it possible to make present perfect for this ?

Hello Abdul Qadir,

The correct sentence would be 'I have been learning English for three years (now)' - i.e. using the present perfect.  I'm not sure what the other tense you refer to is when you say 'both of these tenses', but present perfect is the best way to express this idea.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by N_Ponte on Thu, 26/06/2014 - 16:01

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Is correct to say "At the University, I have learnt how to speak English..."? I am not studying there anymore. Why am I using this tense? The present perfect tense is used to talk about (some kind of) experience / events from the past, when the specific time is not referred . Right? I am looking forward to your reply. Thank you in advance.

Hello N_Ponte,

By saying "at university" (note it's usually "at university", without "the", unless you're referring to a specific one) you indirectly refer to a specific time, so the present perfect in your sentence actually indicates that you are still at university. Since in reality you are not studying there anymore, the best form to use here is the past simple: "At university, I learnt how to speak English."

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tharanga1180 on Mon, 02/06/2014 - 11:49

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Hi, is this sentence correct? ''I have been come home for one year. what I want to say, one year has been passed after I came home.How do I say it to others