How to Use the Present Perfect

All you need to know about the Present Perfect

Do you find the Present Perfect confusing? Still making mistakes? Read this article.

This article is for English language learners who want to understand the Present Perfect and improve their English grammar.

When to use the Present Perfect tense in English?

The Present Perfect is a tense linking the past and the present. We use it to talk about an action which happened in the past and we have the result of that action now, while talking about it.

Light bulb. Light bulb moment when you find out how use the Present Perfect English tense. All you need to know about Present Perfect. English Courses in London with Link School.

Learn about English Present Perfect Tense

The Present Perfect Tense is one of the most confusing English grammar subjects for many learners. That’s because in many other languages there is no equivalents of this tense. Here are a couple of tips how to use the Present Perfect:

The Present Perfect Formula:

Positive

subject + have + past participle + object

Examples:
You’ve done it
She’s done it.

Negative

subject + have + not + past participle + object

Examples:
I haven’t done it.
He hasn’t done it.

Question

have + subject + past participle + object

Examples:
Have they done it?
Has it done it?

When to use the Present Perfect

Usage of the Present Perfect Tense includes:

When the action is complete

The main usage of the Present Perfect is to state that the action is complete, but the time is not complete. Hence the name, perfect, in that the action is completed, and in the present, the present perfect.

To close or open a topic

One of the common reasons to use the Present Perfect is to close a topic of conversation, or alternatively to open a topic of conversation and subsequently follow it with the present simple or more often so the past simple.

Examples to close conversations

A: Have you finished the report.
B: Yes, and I’ve already handed it in.

A: Have you ever been to Spain?
B: No, I’ve never been there.

A: Do you know what a stalwart is?
B: No, I’ve never heard of that.

A: I was wondering if you can tell me how to get to Sunbury, please?
B: Excuse me! I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve never heard of it.

Examples to start conversations:

A: You’ll never guess what I’ve just seen.
B: Oh, really! What did you see?
A: A man was walking a cat in the park!!

A: Have you seen the new batman film?
B: No, not yet! Have you?
A: No, but I want to. The trailer looks brilliant!

Read also: How to make fewer mistakes in English

A: Have you ever been to Barbados?
B: Yes, it was excellent. It has the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen!
A: Really! Why do you say that?
B: The sand is white and feels like silk, and the water’s the palest blue I’ve ever seen.
A: Ah man, that sounds so beautiful. So which do you think is the best place to stay?

A: I’ve seen the most amazing thing!
B: Really! What was that then?
A: A female dog was nursing kittens along with her puppies!
B: Really! Are you serious?
A: Yes! They were all suckling together. It was wonderful!

The Past Participle verb form

This is where it gets even more confusing and it’s very easy to make a mistake. That’s because we use the past participle, the third form of the verb. You probably already know, that every verb in English has three forms.

The first verb form is the verb in its plane state, called the present.

The second verb form is the verb in its past state, meaning in the past.

The third verb form is the Past Participle, meaning to bring the past into the present.

Examples:
Present Simple: I see them every day.
Past Simple: I saw them yesterday.
Past Participle: I have seen them today.

Most English verbs are regular and simply use ‘ed’ for the past simple and past participle. But, some verbs are irregular, where all three are different. Here are some examples:

Present Simple
arrive
walk
watch
see
take
chose
lead
make
meet
come
run
become
put
set
let
Past Simple
arrived
walked
watched
saw
took
choose
led
made
met
came
ran
became
put
set
let
Past Participle
arrived
walked
watched
seen
taken
chosen
led
made
met
come
run
become
put
set
let


Time Adverbs for the Present Perfect Tense

In everyday English we use a lot of time expressions, which are called time adverbs. If you want to sound more natural when speaking English, you should use appropriate adverbs of time. Time adverbs commonly used with the Present Perfect include:

Ever

Ever is a positive or interrogative (question) time adverb to mean ‘in all one’s days’.

It’s the most beautiful flower I have ever seen.
Have you ever seen a flower as beautiful as this.

Never

Never is the negative version of ‘ever’.
I’ve never seen anything so strange.

Before

Before meaning in all one’s days before this moment in time.
I’ve been here before.

With the Past Perfect it means before a specific moment in the past, and this is the only reason to use the past perfect, to specify that an action is further in the past that another.
e.g. I had finished high school, before I went to university.

Already

Already is a positive time adverb to specify, or moreover give emphasis, that an action has been completed before this moment in time.
I have already completed the assignment.

Yet

Yet is the negative or interrogative version of ‘already’
I haven’t completed the assignment yet.
Have you completed the assignment yet?

Just

Just meaning a short while/time/moment ago.
I’ve just seen a wonderful thing.

Place of adverbs in the sentence

As you can see the place of these adverbs vary according to meaning. But, generally, as with all adverbs of time, they come between the subject and the main verb. The exceptions to this are ‘before’, and ‘yet’. Both of them coming after the object.

Have you ever seen it?
I’ve already seen it.
I’ve just seen it.
I’ve seen it before.
or
I haven’t seen it yet.
I’ve never seen it.

N.B. When using ‘ever’ in a positive sense, it needs an informative clause prior.

We hope this helps you to understand the Present Perfect. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments below, we will answer.

You may be also interested in:
– English Grammar Courses in London
– 4 Tips to Improve your English Grammar
– How to Improve English Vocabulary
– English Grammar Courses starting in January 2017

Posted on in English language tips, Improve English grammar, Learn English Advice, Link School of English

Add a Comment