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Present perfect tense

 
 
 

Grammatical form

simple
subject + verb to have (present tense) + past participle


continuous
subject + verb to have (present tense) + been + verb -ing
 
 

General use of the present perfect

The present perfect tense links the past to the present. There are three common ways in which it is used:

1) (Up until now)

To refer to something that started in the past and is still happening now.

I have lived here for three years.

This means I moved here three years ago and I still live here.



2) (Life experience)

To refer to something that happened at an unspecified time in the life of someone who is alive now.

She has been to Australia.

This means she went to Australia at sometime in her life. We do not know when or how many times.



3) (Present relevance)

To refer to something that happened in the past which has some importance or relevance now.

I've lost my glasses.

This means I lost my glasses at sometime, probably quite recently. The present relevance is that I don't have my glasses now.

For more detailed notes on each of these concepts, see the links below.

 

Present perfect versus past simple

The present perfect is not used to talk about things that happened at speficic times in the past, are finished, or do not have a direct relevance now. In these cases the past simple is normally used.

I lived in London for three years when I was a student.

This means I lived in London for a period of three years at a specific time in the past - when I was a student. I do not live in London now.

I went to Australia last year.

This means I went to Australia at a specific time in the past. I am not there now.

I lost my glasses when I was on holiday.

This means I lost my glasses at a specific time in the past. There is no present relevance (presumably you have bought a new pair of glasses).

For more detailed notes on how the past simple is used, see the link below



ESL quizzes for Present perfect tense
quiz
Present perfect or past simple? (long quiz)
Fifty two question, 2-option past simple vs present perfect quiz
Present perfect quiz
Multiple-choice quiz. All main uses of the present perfect.
Present perfect and past simple quiz 2
Twelve-question two-choice MC quiz.
gap fill
Letter : present perfect or past simple?
Fill the gaps in the complaint letter with past simple or present perfect verb forms

Related ESL material
gap fill
Past simple and continuous - anecdote - the Donkey Dog
Short anecdote about a frightening experience gapped for past continuous and past simple plus 'enormous' and 'the biggest'

ESL lesson plans

Politics and the US Election

Complete lesson Vocabulary: politics, elections; skills: political issues.
US Election ESL worksheet thumbnail 1 US Election ESL worksheet thumbnail 2 US Election ESL worksheet thumbnail 3 US Election ESL worksheet thumbnail 4
Download Politics and the US Election (PDF)
 

Gender discrimination at work

Complete lesson Vocabulary: work clothes; skills: gender discrimination; grammar: reported speech.
Gender descrimination ESL worksheet thumbnail 1 Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 2 thumbnail Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 3 thumbnail
Download Workplace gender discrimination (PDF)
 

English grammar notes

Comparison with as...as

Comprehensive grammar reference notes, illustrated.
Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 1 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 2 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 3
Download English grammar notes: comparison with as...as (PDF)