Present Perfect Tense Uses
The present perfect tense is a complicated verb tense in English. We have several uses for it, and it can be difficult to tell in many situations whether you should be using simple present, simple past, or present perfect.
Broadly speaking, the present perfect tense helps us talk about a situation in the present that is connected with the past. That may sound confusing. In our opinion, it is easier to see it in use, rather than just learning its definition. Here are the six most common uses for the present perfect.
- To Show That You Have Experienced Something (Or to Check if Others Have Experienced Something)
Example: Have you eaten Mexican food before?
- To Show Change Between the Past and Present
Example: I have seen her a lot recently) (previously you didn’t see her so much)
- To Show a Continuing Situation
Example: I have been her friend for forty years.
- Actions over An Incomplete Period of Time
Example: I’ve been to the dentist twice this year.
- A Repeated Action, Situation, or Event that has Happened Throughout the Past (and Will Probably Happen Again)
Example: England has had twelve monarchs since 1707.
- A Recently Completed Action
Example: She has just finished her exam.
If you want to test your knowledge of the present perfect, you can try our present perfect tense quiz.
Present Perfect Tense Form
As far as its form, the present perfect is fairly easy. It combines have and has with the past participle of the main verb to form its sentences. One area to note is the contractions. There are some sentence s where you can choose between two different contraction forms. These do not change the meaning and are mostly up to the speaker’s preferences.
Positive and Negative Forms (Without Contractions)
|Subject||Have/Has||(Not)||Past Participle Verb||Object|
|He||has||arrived||at the hotel.|
|It||has||tricked||me so many times.|
Positive and Negative Forms (With Contractions)
|Subject + Have/Has||(Not)||Past Participle Verb||Object||Yet/Before|
|He’s||not||arrived||at the hotel||yet.|
|It’s||not||tricked||me at all.|
Positive and Negative Forms (With Contractions Version 2)
|Subject||Have/Has + Not||Past Participle Verb||Object||Yet/Before|
|He||hasn’t||arrived||at the hotel||yet.|
|It||hasn’t||tricked||me at all.|
Questions Forms (Without Contractions)
|Have/Has||Subject||(Not)||Past Participle Verb||Object||Yet/Before|
|Has||he||arrived||at the hotel||yet?|
Questions Forms (With Contractions)
|Have/Has + (Not||Subject||Past Participle Verb||Object||Yet/Before|
|Hasn’t||he||arrived||at the hotel||yet?|
Examples of the Present Perfect
To understand a verb tense, it can help to see many examples. We have put together a string of examples, organized by the individual uses of the present perfect.
1. To Show That You Have Experienced Something (Or to Check if Others Have Experienced Something)
I have been to Spain before.
You have spoken to him before.
She has played soccer.
He has played that game.
We have tried this before.
Tim and Allen have lost a game already.
I haven’t been to Spain before.
You have not spoken to him before.
She has not played soccer yet.
He hasn’t played that game yet.
We have not tried this before.
Tim and Allen haven’t lost a game yet.
Have you visited London?
Why haven’t you tried octopus before?
Has she planned a trip to Europe before?
Hasn’t he followed someone on Instagram before?
Where haven’t you hiked before?
Have they played it yet?
2. To Show Change Between the Past and Present
I have played games a lot more recently.
Since the summer, she has been a lot nicer.
The leaves have changed a lot in the last few days.
We have seen a lot of birds here over the last week.
We have had a lot more visitors here than usual.
You have eaten way more meat these last couple of days.
I haven’t played games a lot recently.
Since the summer, she has not been very nice.
The leaves have not changed a lot in the last few days.
We haven’t seen a lot of birds here over the last week.
We have not had a lot more visitors here than usual.
You haven’t eaten more meat than before.
Do you think that we have been better students lately?
Has she recently practiced more?
Have we run more in these practices?
Has the internet been slow recently?
Have I procrastinated too much this week?
Compared to last year, his stats have been way down.
3. To Show a Continuing Situation
I have worked at Microsoft for six months.
She has been moody all her life.
They have been lost for the last four days.
Jane has studied that for years.
We have visited the Hamptons since I was a child.
Tina has wanted a puppy since she was 10.
I haven’t worked at Microsoft for very long.
She hasn’t been moody all day.
They have not been lost for more than an hour.
Jane has not studied that since she started university.
We have not visited the Hamptons since I got my new dog.
Tina has not wanted a puppy since one bit her.
How long has she wanted to buy a car?
Why have they always tried to start a business?
How have you played soccer for so long?
How long have we studied French?
Why have Jim and Tim wanted a new bike since they were 8?
4. Actions Over An Incomplete Period of Time
I have been to the grocery store twice already today.
You’ve flown to the UK three times this summer.
He has hit him several times.
She’s run around the track six times already.
They’ve been back to the doctor several times since he got his diagnosis.
I’ve been back there at least once a week for the last year.
I haven’t been to the grocery store yet today.
You’ve not flown to the UK yet this summer.
He has not hit him ever.
She’s not run around the track at all.
They’ve not been back to the doctor since he got his diagnosis.
I’ve been back there at least once a week for the last year.
How many times have you been to the grocery store today?
How often have you flown to the UK this summer?
How many times has he hit you?
How many times has she run around the track?
How often have they been back to the doctor since he got his diagnosis?
How many times have you been back there over the last year?
5. A Repeated Action, Situation, or Event that Happened Throughout the Past
England has had twelve monarchs since 1707.
There have been a number of battles in America since the War of Independence.
He has tried to win the championship eighteen times since 2002.
They have moved three times since 2010.
France has chosen a new capital several times since 1500.
There have been twelve major earthquakes in California twelve since we began counting.
England hasn’t had more than fifteen monarchs since 1707.
There haven’t been any battles in America since the Civil War.
He has not tried to win the championship since he lost in 2002.
They have not moved more than three times since 2010.
France hasn’t chosen a new capital since 1950.
There haven’t been any major earthquakes in California since I was born.
How many monarchs have there been in England since 1707?
How many battles have there been in America since the Civil War?
How many times has he tried to win the championship since he lost in 2002?
How many times have they moved since 2010?
How many times has France chosen a new capital since 1950?
How many major earthquakes have there been in California since I was born?
6. A Recently Completed Action
It has just finished the download.
They have just come in from the cold.
We have just walked here from the car.
The Smiths have just decorated their Christmas tree.
I’ve just written my exam.
You’ve just cooked a meal for twenty people!
It hasn’t yet finished the download.
They have not come in from the cold yet.
We haven’t walked here from the car yet.
The Smiths have not yet decorated their Christmas tree.
I’ve not yet written my exam.
You’ve not yet cooked a meal for twenty people!
Has it finished the download yet?
Have they come in from the cold yet?
Have they walked here from the car yet?
Have the Smiths yet decorated their Christmas tree?
Have I written my exam yet?
Have you cooked a meal for twenty people yet?
More Verbs at the Learner’s Nook
At the Learner’s Nook, we have been trying to put together a complete collection of verb materials in English. To see what we have already made, you can check out our Verb Page or click on the image below.
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