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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?

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

Intermediate: B1

Comments

Hi,
Which one looks correct?
It's now midnight and I nedd to go to bed since I had a very busy day.
It's now midnight and I nedd to go to bed since I've had a very busy day.

Hello Jack Red,

Both the past simple and present perfect are grammatically correct here and mean the same thing, really. In the first sentence, the user sees the day as finished whereas in the second one, she sees it as not quite over, or still relevant to the present moment even if it's over. There are many cases when the speaker's perspective on what they are speaking about will determine which verb form is the correct one. You might find our Talking about the past page useful.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

He came earlier today.
He has come earlier today.
Now, in this context earlier is a stated time, but today is not over yet, so should we use present perfect*

Hello Ayn,

I've answered this question on another page for you. Please post questions once only; asking the same question multiple times only slows the process down.

 

Thanks,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello British council team,
I am confused about the following sentence
I.........working in my company and i look for another job
A. Enjoyed
B. Have enjoyed
Which tense is more accurate in this sentence ?
Ok thanks in advance

Hello Easy peasy,

Both forms are possible. Enjoyed tells us that the speaker no longer works in the company. Have enjoyed tells us that they still work there, or have only just finished.

I think you need 'I'm looking' rather than 'I look', however, as it is presumably an ongoing action.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Warm hello to The LearnEnglish Team from Uzbekistan,
Would you please help me to find out wich of the following tenses is suitable for this situation below:
In 2014 i leant mnemonic techniques
and now i can use it.
1.I learnt mnemonic techniques ( because it is finished action)
2.I have learnt mnemonics ( the action has its own result- i can use)
And second question:
In 2014 i learn some mnemonic techniques but now i cannot use it totally, i forgot them. So do we still use present perfect while the action does not have a present result?

Hello BobMux,

In natural speech, how exactly someone would express these ideas would also depend on the situation and their purpose in saying this. For example, in the first situation you describe, what I'd probably say is 'I know some mnemonic techniques' -- assuming that the most relevant point is not when I learned them, but rather that I can use them now. Then if someone asked me when I learned them, I could say 'I learned them in 2014'. I'm sure there are some contexts when the present perfect would be appropriate, but I can't think of one off the top of my head right now.

As for the second situation, you could use the past simple, but again I'd probably say something different -- for example, 'I used to know some mnemonic techniques, but I don't remember much'. (Ironic, isn't it?)

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello..!!

May I ask a quistion please ?
I am little confused
what is different between " have you seen..?" and " did you see..?"
Thank you

Hello Hemam,

This is explained in the Past and the present section of our Talking about the past page. Please have a look there, and then if you have any further questions, feel free to ask us there.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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