Present Perfect Tense: Definition, Rules and Useful Examples

Present Perfect Tense! In this section, we are going to be explaining exactly what the present perfect tense and how we can use it, allowing you to be able to speak much more clearly about certain actions and the times they are occurring.

Learn how and when to use the Present Perfect Tense in English with useful grammar rules, example sentences and ESL printable worksheets.

Present Perfect Tense

What Is the Present Perfect Tense?

The present perfect tense is something which might seem complicated at first glance, but once you understand the basic rules, it becomes much more simple. This tense is used to talk about an action which began in the past but has continued into the present moment and is something that we see often when using the English language.

The present perfect tense is used to describe:

  1. an action or situation that began sometime in the past and continues into the present time.
  2. an action performed during a period that has not yet completed.
  3. a repeated activity in an unspecified time period between the past and the current time period.
  4. an action that finished in the very recent past, expressed by ‘just’.
  5. an action when the time is not important.

It is formed with a variant of the verb to have + the present participle (verb form ending in -ed).

The part that may confuse some readers is whether to use this present perfect verb tense (e.g. have walked) or to use the simple past (e.g. walked).

Simple Past

  • Used with adverbs that describe a time already past (e.g. I studied for the test on Sunday).
  • Used with an adverb that marks a specific point in time (e.g. I have studied today).

Present Perfect

  • Used with adverbs describing a time that started in the past and continues right up to the present time (e.g. I have studied every day this week).
  • Used with an adverb that marks a specific point in time (e.g. I have studied today).
  • Used when speaking about an event that happened in the recent past (e.g. I have studied night after night for this test).

In the next section are ten examples to demonstrate the various use cases described above. After that are several exercises to provide practice identifying the different forms of the present perfect verb tense. As always, a good way to continually reinforce this information is to try and identify this type of verb while reading and always, always, always keep a dictionary or google search window handy.

Present Perfect Tense Structure

In English grammar, the present perfect is a combination of the present tense and perfect aspect that is used to express a past event that has present consequences.

The structure of the Present Perfect (formula):

  • Affirmative Sentence

Subject + have/has + past participle

Example:

I have tried sushi before.

  • Negative Sentence

Subject + have not (haven’t)/has not (hasn’t) + past participle

Example:

I have not tried sushi before.

Have/Has + subject + past participle?

Example:

Have you tried sushi before?

Examples of the Present Perfect Tense

  1. My daughter has completed her math and reading homework assignments.
  2. The gardener has planted all the seeds he is going to for the tomato season.
  3. We have finished watching Star Wars and now we can start watching The Empire Strikes Back.
  4. My company has banned remote work-from-home and now we all have to drive into the office every day.
  5. For the last two weeks, I have read a book a day and reviewed it for my website.
  6. have traveled back and forth to Japan once a month for the last year.
  7. The cat has played with the ribbon for too long and now she just looks silly!
  8. have listened to all the PMP podcasts, and now I am ready to take the exam.
  9. The trick-or-treaters have visited my house three times tonight and I’m not sure I can stay hidden any longer.
  10. My son has performed the same piano exercises for the last hour and I can’t get the sounds out of my head!

How to Use the Present Perfect Tense?

The Present Perfect Tense Usage

The Present Perfect is used:

  • To express things you have done in your life

Examples:

I’ve been to England.

She has never studied Japanese.

  • To express the number of times you have done something

Examples:

I’ve been to Paris three times.

How many times have you tried to call her?

  • To describe recently completed actions which are important now

Examples:

I have some bad news. I’ve lost my job.

I can’t play football tonight – I’ve hurt my leg.

  • To express situations that started in the past and are still true

Examples:

I’ve known James for 4 or 5 years.

She’s been the director of that company since 2007.

  • To describe unfinished actions or situations

Examples:

I’ve known Julie for ten years. (I met her ten years ago and I still know her)

We have lived here since 2004.

  • To express the present result

Examples:

I’ve lost my keys.

John has missed the bus, so he’ll be late.

Time Adverbs in Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is commonly used with the indefinite time adverbs (time expressions):

  • Just
  • Already
  • Yet
  • For
  • Since
  • Never
  • Ever
  • Still

Final thoughts

This article covers a lot of ground relating to one specific verb tenses that describe actions occurring starting in the past that ended already but have some continued effect on the present time. This may be the most difficult to use verb form since it is not actually used to describe actions occurring in the present time. The simple form sometimes gets confused with the present progressive and may require a bit more active concentration to identify when it is appropriate to use which form. It is still fairly common in speech to hear some confusion between the simple form and the present progressive form.

The present progressive is used particularly often; many speakers, however, do not specifically understand when or why to use this form since it was originally learned through habit rather than study. Just as with any other language, whether it is a primary or a secondary tongue, both speaking and writing the words as well as keeping a dictionary and thesaurus handy is imperative to become truly fluent.

Finally, the best way to cement and maintain an understanding of these verb forms is to read much and focus on why specific verb forms are used in the text; not all at once, but one verb form at a time.

Present Perfect Tense Chart | Picture

Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Tense Exercises

Instructions: Each question will present a sentence with one or more empty spaces. The correct form of the verb or verbs must be selected from the answers given (A, B, C, D).

All Tenses in English

Learn all (12) tenses in English with useful grammar rules, examples and ESL worksheets.

Verb Tenses Chart

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Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Very good teaching

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Thanks

Dan
Dan
8 months ago

I’ve seen a number of YouTube videos about Present perfect tense but this web page Sums it the best! Honestly, If you study this page well you will never get confused by When and how to use this tens.
You’ve done a great job here!

Dan

Pavaat Tovchhin
Pavaat Tovchhin
8 months ago

Thanks you so much ???and it’s very important for me .

Rap
Rap
6 months ago

Could you explain how to use have had, please! Thanks!

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