The Present perfect tense guide

In this lesson, we learn what the Present perfect tense is, and how to use it in English. There is a video lesson attached at the end; you can scroll down to it directly and watch it if you prefer videos to articles.

What is the Present Perfect tense in English?

Present perfect tense definition: The Present Perfect tense is used to talk about actions that occurred in the past. Here, the completion of the actions is more important than when they occurred, and that’s is why we don’t talk about the time when the actions occurred in the past.

Please note that the actions (completed) are still relevant to the present.

Present perfect tense examples:

  • I have been to Disneyland twice.
  • Jon has eaten raw fish.
  • The house has been furnished.
  • We have made a robot to serve food.
  • She has never dated a man.
  • He hasn’t kissed a girl yet.
  • Why have you come here?
  • She has finally asked me out.

How to form sentences in the Present Perfect tense?

Affirmative

Subjecthas/havepast participle (V3)object/modifier
Affirmative sentences in the present perfect tense
  • I have been to many countries.
  • He has come back from Pune.
HaveI, you, we, they & plural noun names
HasHe, she, it & singular noun names
Use of have and has

Negative:

Subjecthas/havenotV3object/modifier
Negative sentences in the present perfect tense
  • She has not come yet.
  • You have not disappointed me with your performance.

Interrogative:

Has/havesubjectV3object/modifier?
Interrogative sentences in the present perfect tense
  • Has she called you yet?
  • Have you eaten Chinese food before?

Interrogative negative:

Has/havesubjectnot v3object/modifier?
Interrogative negative sentences in the present perfect tense
  • Has she not called you yet?
  • Have you not eaten Chinese food before?

Now, let’s look at different usages of present perfect tense.

6 different usages of the present perfect tense

Usages of the Present Perfect tense in English

1. To talk about the status/completion of an action that someone is interested in

The Present Perfect tense is commonly used to talk about the completion of actions that people are interested in knowing.

Examples:

  • He has slept already.
  • Has he even smoked before?
  • I have completed my project.
  • Ronny has left college.
  • The food has been prepared.
  • The meeting has been over.
  • I have finally asked her to move on with me.

We answer in the Present Perfect tense when someone is interested in knowing the state or the completion of an action. Imagine you are waiting at the reception of a company to meet someone, let’s say “Mr. Smith”. You are told that you can meet him after the meeting.

Now, what tense would you use to ask someone about the state of the meeting? It’s the present perfect tense. Your words would be “Has the meeting been over?” And the answers would be “Yes, it has.” or “No, it hasn’t.”

2. Actions completed in the near past using words such as ‘just’ and ‘recently’

When we talk about actions that finished in the recent past, we use the Present Perfect tense to talk about it using the words “just” and “recently.”

Examples:

  • She has just finished the work.
  • I have recently watched this movie.
  • Max has moved out of this place recently.
  • I have just had food. I can’t eat anymore.
  • He has just boarded the train.

Placement of the adverb “JUST

The adverb JUST is used just before the past participle.

  • I have just called here.
  • She has just broken up with Rohit.
  • We have just left the hotel.

3. To talk about life experiences

When you want to share your life experiences or want to know about someone’s life experiences, use the Present Perfect tense to do that. It is like saying “I have the experience of doing or being…”

Examples:

  • My father has been to more than 20 countries.
  • I have worked with some NGOs.
  • I haven’t kissed a girl.
  • She has never kissed a guy.
  • Have you had a street fight?
  • Allen has eaten raw fish.
  • We have trained college graduates.
  • Rohit has dated a married woman.

4. To talk about achievements and failures

Use the Present Perfect tense to talk about your accomplishments, or failures: good or bad experiences.

Examples:

  • I have won a gold medal in a quiz competition.
  • Akshay has been awarded the Khel Ratna award.
  • He has stopped a robbery single-handedly.
  • My father has met the president four times.
  • I have saved many adults from committing suicide.

5. To talk about actions that started in the past and are still continuing in the present

The Present Perfect tense is also used to talk about situations/ actions that started in the past and are still happening in the present, and they might even continue in the future as well.

Examples:

  • I have always enjoyed your company.
  • She has lived here since 1990.
  • He has had a crush on you for years.
  • Ron has been ill since last week.
  • We have been married happily for 20 years.

Use of FOR and SINCE

FOR: to refer to a time period (months, days, hours, weeks, years)
SINCE: last night, yesterday, last week, last month, last year, 1980)

6. To refer to unfinished time

When we talk about completed actions in relation to the unfinished time, we use the Present Perfect tense. But if we talk about actions in relation to finished time, we use the Simple Past tense.

Finished time = yesterday, last night, last week, last month, last year, 1999, etc.
Unfinished time = today, this week, this month, this year, etc.

Examples:

  • I have seen you twice today.
    (This day is not over, and I may see you again.)
  • We have gone shopping twice this week.
    (This week is not over yet, and we may go shopping again.)
  • This month, I have been to my uncle’s twice.
    (This month isn’t over yet, and I may visit my uncle again.)
  • She has worked very hard this month.
    (This month isn’t over yet, and she may continue working hard.)

BUT if we talk about these actions in relation to a finished time, we will have to use the Simple Past tense.

  • I saw you twice yesterday.
  • We went shopping twice last week.
  • Last month, I visited my uncle’s twice.
  • She worked very hard last month.

7. To talk about the reason for a certain state or situation

To want to know the state of a person or a situation, we generally use the Present Perfect tense.

Examples:

Max: You look frustrated. What happened?
Jon: I have lost my keys somewhere. I can’t enter my house now.

Jon: Why are you guys dancing?
Jon’s friends: India has won the match.

Riya: I need to talk to your mom? Where is she?
Jon: She has gone shopping.

Monu: You seem to know these people. How come?
Ashu: I have worked here before.

BEEN vs GONE

Look at these two sentences before we move further:

  • He has gone to Mumbai.
  • He has been to Mumbai.

Is there any difference between these two sentences? Are these interchangeable?

These sentences are not similar at all. They render two different meanings.

  • He has gone to Mumbai. = He has done the action of going to Mumbai. He is still there.
  • He has been to Mumbai. = He has the experience of visiting Mumbai. He is not there right now.

The Present perfect tense active and passive voice

It is also important to know how to use the Present Perfect tense in passive voice.

Active voice: Subject (the doer) + has/have + past participle (V3) + object (the receiver)
Passive voice: Object (the receiver) + has/have + been + past participle (V3) + subject (the doer)

Examples:

Active voice: I have finished the task.
Passive voice: The task has been completed (by me).

Active voice: The students have submitted the assignments.
Passive voice: The assignments have been submitted (by them).

Active voice: I have recorded the last video.
Passive voice: The last video has been recorded (by me).

Note that we don’t mention or focus on the doer of the action (subject) in the passive voice. We focus on the receiver of the action (object) in the passive voice.

Conclusion:

The main purpose of using the Present perfect tense is to talk about a finished action in the past. We do so as it is still relevant to the present, and the completion of the action is more important to us than when it occurred.

Feel free to empower others by sharing it with them! The class is over! 😉

6 unique ways to use Present perfect tense

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