Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect is a grammatical combination of the present tense and the perfect aspect, used to express a past event that has present consequences. The events described by present perfects are not necessarily completed … (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Present_perfect_tense).

The actions happen at an indefinite (unspecified) time or begin in the past and continue to the present. The exact time is not important, therefore the specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in New York, at that moment, that day, one day, etc. can not be used in this tense. Just use unspecific time expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, just, till now, up to now etc. with this tense.


The Pattern

The present perfect is formed by combining the auxiliary verb have/has with the past participle.

Positive

Subject +have/has+ Verb3 (past participle)

Negative

Subject+have/has+not+Verb3

Interrogative

Have/has+subject+Verb3

Have —->> I, you, we, they or the plural noun
Has —–>> he, she, it or the singular or the uncountable noun

The Functions

The problem may occur for the user with present perfect tense is about the event that happens at an indefinite time. Therefore, to get more comprehensive understanding, just see its detail functions below.

Present Perfect Tense is used to express:

1. actions which happen at an indefinite (unknown) time in the past, but the exact time is not mentioned;

Examples:

He has taken a bath.
I have been to Bali.

2. actions in the past which have effects on the present moment (the emphasis is on the result);

 Examples:

  • The servant has already swept the floor. (The floor is now clean)
  • We have already had dinner. (We are not hungry any longer)
  • She hasn’t finished her test yet. (She’s still doing it now)

Note: use just, already and yet with the present perfect tense for the actions in the past with the effects on the present moment

3. actions which begin in the past and continue to the present;

Examples:

  • He has worked as a pilot for 15 years.
  • We have lived here since 1994.
  • How long have you been here?
  • I haven’t seen him since Saturday.

 Note: use since and for to say how long the action has lasted.

 4. actions that stop recently;

 Examples:

  • John has just done his homework.
  • I have just sent Tom an email.

 5. actions that happen once, never or several times before the moment of speaking;

 Examples:

  • We have seen that movie many times.
  • I have never heard such boring story.

 6. about experiences.

 Examples:

  • I have been to Canada three times.
  • Jack has never broken a leg.
  • Have you ever eaten kimchi?

 Note: use never and ever with the present perfect tense to talk about experience.

Time Signals

The time signals of present perfect tense have been explained in the introduction above. Here I will only explain about the difference of “Since” and “for” as the time expressions which are very common used in the present perfect.

We use “for” with a period or duration of time (how long an event has happened), for example:
• Marry has taught English for 25 years.

When talking about a starting point, we use “since”, for example:
• Deny has worked for this company since 1990.

 Check the 16 English Tenses you want to study more below!

Present

Past

Future

Past Future

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