You are here

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


Dears, may I ask you a question?
I have a question and I nee to answer: "How did you find it out?" what is the best and correct answer to it? "I heard it in the canteen" or "I have heard it in the canteen". From my point of view the first one is the correct one, because it was a finished action, but I´m not certain about it. It might have a connection to the present and in this case the present perfect would be better….Thank you for your help.

Hello PavlaH,

The best choice here is the past simple (I heard it...). The other person's question already places the action in a completed past time frame, so the past tense is appropriate.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,
thank you for explaining. One more question related to the first sentence. Is it OK to use there IT - "How did you find IT out?" Or is it better to use it without IT . "How did you find out?" Thank you. Pavla

Hello PavlaH,

You can use either form here. The question with 'it' is more specific: you are asking about a concrete piece of information. The question without 'it' could be more general or specific, depending on the context.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot.

I was going through some online exercises and I bumped into these two question.
1-I didn’t recognize my friend John at the party yesterday.He(HAS PUT/HAD PUT/PUT)on a lot of weight| Answer:has put 

2-Yesterday at a restaurant, I saw kelly, an old friend of mine. I had not seen her in years. At first, I didn’t recognize her because she (HAS LOST/HAD LOST/LOST)weight| Answer:has put 

I thought both Answers were HAD PUT because the action of losing or putting on weight happened before the action of recognizing. Or is it because losing or putting weight is a slow process,And since it’s (yesterday) there won’t a big change?

Thank you in advance 

Hi Turki123456,

Actually, my first answer would be had put/lost too :) But has put/lost also work.

The difference is in the relationship between the events. If you say had put and had lost (past perfect), it means that John put on weight and Kelly lost weight before you saw them yesterday. It links both events to the party/restaurant yesterday. You would choose this tense if, after saying these sentences, you wanted to keep on speaking about what happened yesterday at the party/restaurant.

If you say has put and has lost (present perfect), it means that John putting on weight and Kelly losing weight is relevant to the current conversation topic. So, you would choose this tense if you wanted to continue speaking about their weight gain/loss (not the party/restaurant).

Does that make sense?


The LearnEnglish Team

What’s the difference between “he has been described as a talented cook” and “he is being described as a talented cook”? Thanks

Hello Fiona,

The first sentence (has been described) uses the present perfect for something which happened in the past (someone described him) and is still relevant now (he has this reputation).

The second sentence (is being described) uses the present continuous for something which is in progress at the time of speaking, or which is currently true but is temporary. You might say this if the person has become the focus of attention and is receiving praise in the media at the moment.



The LearnEnglish Team

Which one is correct?
-He has come earlier.
-He came earlier.
I think that first one is the correct one, but I am not sure.
Please answer. I am really confused. :(