Verb tenses: present perfect


Use (the basics):

The present perfect is used in two situations:

  1. When we talk about how something in the past affects something in the present:
  • I have lost my bank card and I can’t pay for anything at the moment.
  • I have been to Italy before, so I can give you some travel tips if you want.
  1. When we talk about something that started in the past and is still continuing now:
  • I have lived in London since 2014
  • I have been learning English for 3 years

Use (tips):

It can be difficult to correctly identify the two situations listed above, so it can be helpful to remember some specific situations that are likely to trigger the present perfect:

  1. Using trigger words such as for, since, ever and never.
  • I have lived here for 4 years
  • I have known my best friend since I was 5 years old
  1. To describe an event that happened in the past at an undefined time, i.e. the emphasis is not on time.
  • I have been to Japan
  1. Using words with an unfinished time period, e.g. yet, recently, this month.
  • I haven’t seen the new Batman film yet.
  • Recently, I have been really busy at work.
  • I have gone for a walk everyday this month.
  1. To describe achievements or experiences.
  • I have already passed all of the exams to become a pilot.
  • I have tried sushi before.
Further learning
Description Author Language
21 useful present perfect question structures engVid
Covers construction, when to use and contractiosn all at an intermediate-friendly level mmmEnglish
A summary of construction, the situations of use and comparison to Portuguese equivalents. Ask Jackie
An explanation of how to link present perfect to different tenses in Portuguese. Instantâneo Aulas
Present perfect summary and example sentences showing how to apply the theory
How to construct the present perfect.
When to use the present perfect (including a very helpful diagram).