Perfect Tense

The Perfect Tense Explained with Examples

The Perfect tense is a verb tense which shows action that has been completed before a specific time in the past, present, and in the future. Basically, the perfect tense emphasizes that an action has been completed at the time the statement is made.

The perfect tense has three aspects; they include present perfectOpens in new window, past perfectOpens in new window, and future perfectOpens in new window. These are formed by adding a helping verbOpens in new window to the past tenseOpens in new window or past participleOpens in new window of main verb. The chart below illustrates this:

What's this?
Present perfectPast perfectFuture perfect
Ihave eatenhad eatenwill have eaten
Youhave eatenhad eatenwill have eaten
He/she/ithas eatenhad eatenwill have eaten
Wehave eatenhad eatenwill have eaten
Theyhave eatenhad eatenwill have eaten

The following is a brief discussion of the three aspects of perfect tense:

1.  Present Perfect — The present perfectOpens in new window tense tells something about action that has completed in immediate past, or at the time the statement is made. Present perfect tense may also refer to habitual or repeated past action.

Examples include:
  • Gretchen has prepared dinner before Bryan arrived home.
  • I have ended my vacation.

2.  Past Perfect — The past perfectOpens in new window tense expresses action that was completed before another past action or time in the past.

Examples include:
  • John had mowed the garden before he left for choir practice
  • By the time Gretchen finished her morning routines, her breakfast left on the table had become cold.

3.  Future Perfect — The future perfectOpens in new window tense shows that an action will have been completed before another action or a specific time in the future.

Examples include:
  • By the time Bryan arrives home, Gretchen will have prepared dinner for the fifth time this week.
  • By the end of the show, the band will have performed five songs.