The present perfect is a common verb tense in English. It can be used in many ways. It is formed like this:
|Subject + Have/Has + (Not/Never) + Past Participle + Object
I have gone to Mexico.
She has not gone to Mexico.
Here are some examples:
- I have eaten dinner.
- You have taken the test.
- He has finished his homework.
- We have seen the movie.
- They have driven a car.
For negative sentences, just add “not”, like in these examples:
- I have not eaten dinner.
- He has not finished his homework.
Have + Not = haven’t
Has + Not = hasn’t
- I haven’t eaten Spanish food.
- She hasn’t finished her homework.
Present Perfect Questions
To ask questions in the present perfect, start with “Have” or “Has”.
|Have/Has + Subject + Past Participle + Object
Have you gone to France?
Has she gone to France?
Yes, I have. Yes, she has.
No, I haven’t. No, he hasn’t.
- Have you visited Paris? No, I have not.
- Has she flown in an airplane? Yes, she has.
- Have they worked in an office? Yes, they have.
Present Perfect Uses
The present perfect has 2 main uses:
- Actions in the past with no specific time
- Actions in the past that continue into the present
No Specific Time
Present perfect is for actions in the past with no time. This could be for a number of reasons:
- Time is unknown
- Time is not important
- The action has happened many times
Let’s think about a few examples.
- He has found his keys.
- I have gone to New York City 3 times.
- I have not finished my project.
- We have seen that movie many times.
In this example, it is not important when he found his keys. We only care he found them.
This example shows an action that has happened many times. Because the present perfect has no specific time, it is not used with time phrases. These examples are incorrect.
- I have eaten lunch yesterday.
- She has taken an English class last year.
In a situation with a specific time, use the simple past. For example:
- I ate lunch yesterday.
- She took an English class last year.
Actions that Continue to the Present
Some actions start in the past, but they continue in the present. This is shown with the present perfect.
- I have lived in Paris for 3 years.
(I live in Paris now.)
- She has worked as a teacher since 2003.
(She started to teach in 2003. She is a teacher now.)
- I have been a student at this school for 2 years.
(I am still a student.)
Present Perfect Key Words
There are some key words used with the present perfect that include the following:
For is used for periods of time. Some examples of time are years, days, or hours.
- I have been a teacher for 4 years.
- Karen has lived in Toronto for 8 years.
- They have been here for 2 hours.
Since is used for specific dates.
- I have been a teacher since
- Karen has lived in Toronto since
- They have been here since 5:00 pm.
Watch how for and since are similar but different.
- I have been a teacher since 2004. I have been a teacher for 9 years.
- He has not eaten since 3 pm. He has not eaten in 6 hours.
To practice the difference between for and since, use this test:
“Yet” is for negative sentences and questions. It always goes at the end of the sentence. Here are some examples:
- I have not eaten dinner yet.
- She has not seen that movie yet.
- They have not arrived yet.
- Have you eaten dinner yet?
- Has he seen that movie yet?
- Has Tina arrived yet?
“Already” is for affirmative sentences. It can go at the end of a sentence:
- I have eaten dinner already.
- She has taken the test already.
- Dan and Jen have had breakfast already.
It also goes between the auxiliary and the main verb:
- I have already eaten dinner.
- She has already taken the test.
- Dan and Jen have already had breakfast.
Here are some more examples:
- She has already
- He has left already.
- Jake and Fred have already finished their work.
Still is for negative sentences. It goes before the auxiliary verb. Here are some examples:
- I still have not eaten dinner.
- She still has not arrived.
- Chris still hasn’t woken up.
To practice the difference between already, still, and yet, try this test:
Present Perfect Mistakes
Watch out for these common mistakes when you are using the present perfect.
Not using the proper form of the verb
- I have went to the park.
- She has ate dinner.
Present perfect always uses a past participle.
- I have gone to the park.
- She has eaten dinner.
Also, watch out for mistakes with irregular verbs.
- I have boughten a jacket. (bought)
- She has flied in an airplane. (flown)
Using the present perfect with a specific time
- I have visited Toronto last year.
- Yuri has watched the movie yesterday.
Remember: Present perfect never uses a specific time. That is simple past.
Not using ever and never properly
- Did you ever see that movie?
- I have ever heard that song.
- Have you never gone to California?
If you would like to practice more with the present perfect, you can also try the free tests at learnEnglish-online: