Present Perfect Tense in English Grammar

Present Perfect Tense in English Grammar

The present perfect is the first of the advance tenses. By using present perfect tense, you will definitely be able to speak and write at a much higher level.

Present Perfect Tense in English Grammar

Present Perfect

The Present Perfect tense is really a very important tense, and a very useful one. The present perfect tense refers to an action or state that either occurred at an indefinite time in the past or began in the past and continued to the present time.

Present Perfect: Structure

The present perfect is composed of the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb 'have' (present tense), plus the past participle of the main verb. The past participle is regularly formed with an -ed suffix (e.g. looked, ended, tutored) but has many irregular forms (e.g. broken, made, understood).

Subject Have Past Participle
I/You/We/They have walked
He/She/It has slept

When we use the present perfect tense in speaking, we often contract the subject and auxiliary verb.

I have been to Paris . → I've been to Paris .

She has lost her purse . → She's lost her purse .

Present Perfect: Negation

For negative sentences you put 'not' between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.

I have been to Paris . → I have not been to Paris .

She has lost her purse . → She has not lost he purse .

In negative sentences, we can contract the auxiliary verb and 'not'. See the examples:

I have not been to Paris . → I haven't been to Paris .

She has not lost he purse . → She hasn't lost her purse .

Present Perfect: Questions

For yes/no question sentences, we exchange the subject and 'have'. Look at these example sentences with the present perfect tense:

I have been to Paris . → Have I been to Paris ?

She has lost her purse . → Has she lost her purse ?

For wh- question sentences, do the exact thing you do for yes/no questions and add the proper wh- question word at the beginning of the sentence and omit the part that is the answer.

I have been to Paris . → Where have I been ?

She has lost her purse . → What has she lost ?

Past Participle: Spelling Rules

The past participle of verbs is usually formed by adding -ed or -d to the verb’s root. But keep in mind that English have quite a few verbs that have irregular past participles (e.g., done, said, gone, known, won, thought, felt, eaten). Here are the spelling rules for the formation of the past participle of regular verbs:

  • If the verb ends in a vowel + 'y' add 'ed'.

play → played

employ → employed

  • If the verb ends in a consonant + 'y', 'y' it changes to '-i' before 'ed'.

study → studied

hurry → hurried

  • If the verb ends in a vowel 'e' add 'd' after it.

live → lived

dance → danced

  • If a monosyllabic verb ends in consonant + vowel + consonant, double the final consonant before 'ed'.

stop → stopped

plan → planned

  • If the verb has more than one syllable, double the final consonant before 'ed' only if the final syllable is stressed.

permit → permitted

prefer → preferred

  • If the final syllable of the verb is not stressed, do not double the final consonant before 'ed'.

listen → listened

develop → developed

Present Perfect: Uses

When someone uses the present perfect tense, they are thinking about:

Unfinished Actions

  • We use the present perfect to talk about something that started in the past and continues in the present.

We've been married for twenty years .

She has worked in the library for six years .

Since and For

We use 'since' with a fixed time in the past (2004, April 23rd, last year). The fixed time can be another action, which is in the past simple (since I was at school, since I arrived). We use 'for' with a period of time (2 hours, three years, six months).

I've known Peter since 1990 .

I've known Amanda for five years .

  • We use the present perfect to talk about something that has not finished.

It has rained a lot this year .

We haven't seen her today .

Frequent Actions

  • We use the present perfect to talk about actions repeated in an unspecified period between the past and now.

It has happened several times already .

She has visited them frequently .

Finished Actions

  • We use the present perfect to talk about our experience up to the present. We don't say when the experience happened. We usually use the adverbs 'ever' and 'never' here.

I have been to Sydney Australia .

We have never seen the movie 'Titanic' .

Ever and Never

The adverb 'ever' is often used to talk about experience up to the present, and we use 'never' for the negative form:

Have you ever met John ?

Yes , but I've never met his son .

  • We use the present perfect to talk about an action completed in the very recent past. We often use the adverb 'just'.

Have you just finished work ?

I have just eaten .

Just, Yet, Already, Recently

We can also use the present perfect to talk about something that happened recently, even if there isn't a clear result in the present. This is common when we want to introduce news and we often use these adverbs: just, yet, already, recently.

I haven't received a letter from him yet .

I haven't seen them recently .

Actions in the Past

  • We use the present perfect to talk about an action that happened in the past but still has a consequence in the present.

I can't pay the cab driver . I've lost my purse .

Kelly's hurt her ankle , so she can't play football today .

an Unspecified Time

  • We use the present perfect to talk about an action that the precise time of it is not important or not known.

She has studied biology , math and physics .

Someone has eaten my sandwich !

Have Been vs. Have Gone

When a person has gone to a place and returned, we use have/has been, but when a person has not returned, we use have/has gone. See the examples:

I've been to Paris .

It means the speaker has been to Paris in their life, but now they're in, for example, London, where they live.

Where's John ? He's gone to the shops

It means he's at the shops now and he hasn't returned yet.

Actions in the Future

  • We normally use the present simple to talk about the future in clauses with before, after, until, etc. but we can also use the present perfect.

She'll keep searching until she finds her purse . = She'll keep searching until she has found her purse .

We'll begin when everyone arrives . = We'll begin when everyone has arrived .

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