Present Perfect in English (Use It Correctly Every Time)
The present perfect tense is used a lot in English, so it’s important to get it right. In fact, as soon as you arrive in an English-speaking country people will use this tense when they ask you, “How long have you been here?”
How would you answer this? If you are not sure, today’s lesson will help.
This lesson will help you use the present perfect tense to answer this kind of question and so much more in English.
There are many situations that need the present perfect. You’ll learn each one and get examples to understand it clearly.
There are also some words you SHOULD use with present perfect and some you definitely SHOULDN’T. So let’s go make sure you know those too.
Learn to use the present perfect correctly — every time.
Lesson by Annemarie
What Is the Present Perfect?
It’s a way of using verbs that makes it clear that an action has a connection between the past and now.
For example, we use the present perfect tense if something started in the past and is still true or still describes the current situation.
- I have lived here for 3 years. (I started living here 3 years ago in the past and I still live here now. The total time of me living here is 3 years till now. This started in the past and is not finished)
- I have loved chocolate since I was 3 years old. (I started to love chocolate when I was 3 years old and I still love it now. This is still true now.)
These examples have a couple of the words we use a lot with present perfect — for and since. If you use ‘for’ or ‘since’ with present perfect then you are definitely getting it right.
One word we should NOT use with present perfect is ‘ago.’
If we use ‘ago’ we are saying something happened in the past, there is no connection with now, so it definitely should not be used with the present perfect.
And for Questions Like, “How’s your day going?”
We also use present perfect when a period of time has not finished, it is still going on, like today, this week, this month, none of these have finished yet.
- I have been so busy today! (today is still going, this is still the present moment)
- You have been so grumpy this week! (you started being grumpy in the past, earlier this week. The week has not ended and you are still in a bad mood!)
Don’t Forget — Something that JUST Happened
The present perfect is also used when something just happened, like:
- Ouch! I’ve just cut my finger.
- They’ve just gone home. (they left a short time earlier)
Do you notice a pattern in these sentences? ‘Just’ is a word we use a lot with present perfect.
- OMG! I’ve just passed my exam!
- She’s just broken up with her boyfriend.
- He’s just become a father.
Use the Present Perfect to Talk about Your Experience
Another way we use it is when we are talking about something we have or have not done in our lives, so our life experiences:
- I’ve been to 6 countries.
- You haven’t been to Disneyland?
- She’s completed 3 university degrees.
- He’s eaten scorpion and eel, he’s a very adventurous eater!
How to Correctly Form the Present Perfect
To correctly form this tense, we need 2 things, ‘have’ or ‘has’ + the past participle of the verb. The past participle is also know as the third form of the verb.
Remember learning drink, drank, drunk? Or write, wrote, written? Drunk and written are the third forms.
Regular Verb Forms for the Present Perfect
I’ve asked her to come tomorrow.
You’ve called him too many times!
We’ve helped her a lot this month.
They’ve liked this band for years!
She’s moved into a new apartment.
He hasn’t looked everywhere!
Irregular Verb Forms for the Present Perfect
I’ve been a teacher for 10 years.
You’ve been to Fiji?
They haven’t gone home already.
We’ve come to help you.
She’s found the perfect job!
He’s left his bag behind.
It’s made me so happy!
I’ve put the files on your desk.
You’ve taken my favorite pen!
She’s forgotten to take out the trash!
It’s had a terrible effect!
An easy trick you can use to know when to use the present perfect AND when NOT to use it.
There are some tricks that can help you remember when to use present perfect.
For example, we use it a lot with the words: ever, never, always.
- I’ve never tried bungee jumping.
- Have you ever been to Japan? → When someone starts a question with, “Have you ever…” that’s a quick clue that you should use the present perfect in your answer.
- She’s always loved jazz.
But, when you talk about a specific time in the past that has already finished you shouldn’t use it.
For example, you SHOULD NOT say:
- X I have done it yesterday. (you should use past simple: I did it yesterday)
- X I’ve seen it last year. (you should use past simple: I saw it last year)
- X I’ve been there in 2018. (you should use past simple: I went there in 2018)
- X It has arrived on May 1st. (you should use past simple: It arrived on May 1st)
Now THIS was a serious lesson!
But the good news is, you are ready to use present perfect perfectly!
Now it is fresh in your mind, it’s a great chance to practice. We would love to hear your answers to one of these questions, using present perfect (I have…/I’ve…), so please share below. If you prefer you can write about someone else using she has (she’s) or he has (he’s):
- What are some amazing and memorable things you have done in your life?
- What brave things you have done?
- What are some amazing or unusual foods you have tried?
The best place to share, get feedback, and learn from others in the Confident English Community is in the comments below.
Have a fantastic Confident English Wednesday!
P.S. ❤️this lesson? Check out: 5 Common Grammar Mistakes with Easy Fixes
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As usual I love your class.I have had holiday experience in hot air ballon .it’s had a amazing memories and experience I still feel it. I have crossed the river by swimming in my life that has braved things in my life. I haven’t tried any unusual food I am always stick to my diet.
You are amazing:))
Hi! Thank you for the great lesson again. I have always enjoyed your youtube classes. I have volunteered at the dog shelter place and it was a lifetime learning experience and the best time of my life. I think the bravest task I have done in my life was speaking in front of the audiences at my university. It was a scary moment and yet, unforgettable experiences. I have not tried anything unusual food but it is definitely in my bucket list.
Great job with the present perfect in these sentences, Faisal!!
what about saying: I have lived here SINCE last month.
Positively perfect! Yes! That is exactly right! We hope you enjoyed the lesson!
Hello Annemarie!!!! This lesson has been very informative for me. You are right the most of English learner have confusion on the usage of Pr. perfect. But, there is no doubt, your followers can easily use it in a correct way… Honestly saying, The huge number of mistakes have been corrected by me after finding you.
Hi Malika, I’m thrilled to hear this was helpful to you. I’d love to have you test out your present perfect skills by answers the challenge questions at the end. 😊
Thank you for the video. I have always wondered how to use correctly present perfect since I started to study English. I do know some rules (with keywords “for”, “since”, “ever”, “never”, “always”) and know how to use them in speaking. But a part of the video gets me confused as it has always happened previously. “How’s your day been going?” is a present perfect continuous tense and not present perfect. It would be great If you could make the video with the explanation about these two tenses. When are they interchangeable and when aren’t.
Oleg, great idea for a video topic! Yes, the difference can be challenging to understand and there are definitely times where present perfect and present perfect continuous would both be appropriate and times when they are not. Thanks for the idea, it is definitely on the list! In the meantime, I will leave you to think about the difference in meaning here:
He has taken my cookies!
He has been taking my cookies!
I have finished my project!
I have been finishing my project.
She has been happy!
Yeah!!! You have made me remember being so young, I’ve just past 17, I had to take a brave decision, I had to leave my parents, friend and leave behind all memories till then. I took the decision to make a trip that took a night on a train and then three nights and two days on a ship to get my destination where I had to start to work. Now I think was a brave act, but I don’t remind it was so at that time.
Many thanks as always for your great blogs
Wow Jaime! That sounds amazingly brave! Well done on having the courage to do something so challenging! Great use on the present perfect here: you have made me remember. For the next part when you tell us about one specific time in your life you can use past simple
– I had just turned 17. – Well done on sharing this brave story with us and improving your English! Keep up the great work!
Hello! I am glad to join you! Once I have changed my name!!! Of course it has been a joke. I don’t remember that I have done something brave. Although saying the truth is a brave action as well, and I can say about me I have done it. As for food I have tried a durian! It has been terrible!!!
Elena, I absolutely agree, telling the truth is one of the bravest things we can do! Trying durian is also pretty brave! What a shame you didn’t like it! You are absolutely right when you say ‘I have tried durian’. Then when you say it tasted terrible you can use past simple – It was terrible! Why do you think we use past simple for that part?
Answering to the final question of the video, I haven´t done anything memorable yet. :(.
I´ve tried grasshoper !!
I´ve ridden a horse 🙂
Wow Nelly, those sound like very memorable things! I can’t imagine what grasshopper tastes like, did you like it?
Hello thanks for your teaching Annemarie you’re great teacher
I would like to study English with you but I don’t know and it’s difficult to fill out with the form. But it’s ok.
My problem is I can’t use “future perfect continue ” I heard is it rarely use this tense right or what…?
Hi Junny, thanks for the comment. I’m happy to hear my lessons are helpful to you. Can you tell me what you mean by it’s difficult to fill out the form? Do you mean to share your comment?