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Present Perfect

The present perfect is one of the most difficult tenses to learn for intermediate level English learners. There are three main purposes for the present perfect in English:

  • Events that begin in the past and continue into the present

    She's lived in Chicago since 2008.

  • Speaking in general about life experience

    Peter has been to Europe many times.

  • Speaking about events that happened recently and influence the present moment

    I've already eaten lunch.

Listed below are examples, uses and structure of the Present Perfect followed by a quiz. Teachers can use this guide on how to teach present perfect for tips, materials and lesson plans for introducing this tense to classes.

Recent Events

Use the present perfect when giving or asking for news or speaking about recent events.

Fred Meyers has had excellent profits this quarter.
The class's understanding has increased greatly this semester.
Have they finished the report yet?

Past Actions with Present Results

Use the present perfect for past actions with results in the present.

The study of irregular verbs has improved test scores. They have bought a new car. I've already eaten lunch.

NOTE - US/English exception: It is also accepted in US English to ask "Did you phone her yet?" as opposed to the more common "Have you phoned her yet?"

Life Experience

Use the present perfect to speak about experience in life in general.

She's traveled in many parts of the world.
Have you ever been to France?
They've never seen a mountain.

Unfinished Actions

Use the present perfect to speak about an action, state, or other status which began in the past and is still true.

He's lived in San Francisco for 10 years.
How long have you worked for this company?
They've studied English for 3 years.
She hasn't traveled abroad.

Ever and Never

Ever is used with the present perfect to ask if something has happened in someone's life, never is used with the present perfect to state that something has never happened in a person's life up until the present moment in time.

Have you ever visited Europe?
Have they ever eaten Sushi?
She's never travelled outside the country.
Tim has never seen a satellite.

Time Expressions with Present Perfect

Use the following time expressions with the present perfect.

for (with a period of time)
since (with an exact point in time)
ever, never
yet, already, this week (month, year)

Conjugate the verb 'have' (have or has) past participle. Regular verbs end in -ed. If the verb ends in -y preceded by a consonant, change the -y to -ied. Irregular verbs must be studied. See chart for most common irregular verbs.
have lived in Seattle since 1978.
has worked for many years.
Conjugate the verb 'have' (have or has) not past participle. Regular verbs end in -ed. If the verb ends in -y preceded by a consonant, change the -y to -ied. Irregular verbs must be studied. See chart for most common irregular verbs.
haven't seen Tom.
hasn't left yet.
Conjugate the verb 'have' (have or has) Subject past participle. Regular verbs end in -ed. If the verb ends in -y preceded by a consonant, change the -y to -ied. Irregular verbs must be studied. See chart for most common irregular verbs.
Have I
been to Paris?
Has He
finished yet?

The present perfect tense is also often confused with the past simple. This present perfect vs past simple quiz will help you test your understanding of when to use the present perfect or past simple.

Present Perfect Quiz

How long (you/think) that?

She (put) the book back in its place.

They (not/buy) a new car yet.

(He/ever/be) in London?

They (not/work) here for a very long time.

She (write) three letters this afternoon.

Where (he/be)?

I (not/finish) my work yet.

Peter (open) a new store recently.

How often (he/go) to Portland this week?

Past Past
Infinitive Simple participle

be was/were been
beat beat beaten
become became become
begin began begun
bend bent bent
bet bet bet
bite bit bitten
blow blew blown
break broke broken
bring brought brought
build built built
burst burst burst
buy bought bought
catch caught caught
choose chose chosen
come came come
cost cost cost
cut cut cut
deal dealt dealt
dig dug dug
do did done
draw drew drawn
drink drank drunk
eat ate eaten
fall fell fallen
feed fed fed
feel felt felt
fight fought fought
find found found
fly flew flown
forbid forbade forbidden
forget forgot forgotten
freeze froze frozen
get got got
give gave given
go went gone
grow grew grown
hang hung hung
have had had
hear heard heard
hide hid hidden
hit hit hit
hold held held
hurt hurt hurt
keep kept kept
know knew known
lay laid laid
lead led led
leave left left
lend lent lent
let let let
lie lay lain
light lit lit
lose lost lost
make made made
mean meant meant
meet met met
pay paid paid
put put put
read read read
ride rode ridden
ring rang rung
rise rose risen
run ran run
say said said
see saw seen
seek sought sought
sell sold sold
send sent sent
set set set
sew sewed sewn/sewed
shake shook shaken
shine shone shone
shoot shot shot
show showed shown
shrink shrank shrunk
shut shut shut
sing sang sung
sink sank sunk
sit sat sat
sleep slept slept
speak spoke spoken
spend spent spent
split split split
spread spread spread
spring sprang sprung
stand stood stood
steal stole stolen
stick stuck stuck
sting stung stung
stink stank stunk
strike struck struck
swear swore sworn
sweep swept swept
swim swam swum
swing swung swung
take took taken
teach taught taught
tear tore torn
tell told told
think thought thought
throw threw thrown
understand understood understood
wake woke woken
wear wore worn
win won won
write wrote written
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