The Present Perfect Tense Explained with Examples
The Present Perfect Tense tells something about an 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.
This verb tense is formed by adding either one of the auxiliariesOpens in new window has or have (as appropriate) to the past participle of the main verb.
The present perfect tense stresses emphasis on:
1. Actions that happened in the past at an unspecified time
The present perfect tense shows an action has happened (or never happened) before now, the exact time is not important.
If there is a specific mention of time, the simple past is used i.e. “I saw his mum yesterday”. But here in present perfect tense we simply say “I saw his mum”.
2. Actions that began in the past and still going on in the present
This tells something about a repeated action that has begun before now.
3. Actions with a length of time
The present perfect tense, when used with for or since, expresses a situation that began in the past and continues to the present.
In the examples below, observe the difference between since and for: since + a particular time, and for + duration of time.
The present perfect has this meaning primarily for those verbs that are usually not used in any of the progressive tenses. This meaning is exactly the same as the meaning of the present perfect progressive tense.
How to Use the Present Perfect Tense
1. Expression of Affirmative Statements with Present Perfect Tense — To make affirmative statement with present perfect tense, the Structure: Subject + have/has + past participle of verb is used.
2. Expression of Negative Statements with Present Perfect Tense — To make negative statement with present perfect tense, the Structure: Subject + have/has + not + past participle of verb is used.
3. Expression of Interrogative Statement with Present Perfect Tense. — To make interrogative statement with present perfect tense, the Structure: (interrogative word) + have/has + subject + past participle of Verb is used.
Note that when used with interrogative word, normally the interrogative will come before the auxiliary ‘have/has’.
4. Expression of Negative Interrogative Statement with Present Perfect Tense — To make negative interrogative statement with present perfect tense, the Structure: (Interrogative word) + have/has + not + subject + participle of verb is used. However, if the subject is singular as in he/she/it we normally use the auxiliary has, and if the subject is plural as in we/you/they, we use the auxiliary have;:
|Contraction — [‘Auxiliary + Not’]|
Note that the Interrogatives are rarely used in formal contexts. Chances are you will seldom have needs to use them.
Never use ‘Auxiliary + Not’ before Subject. You must use contracted form of ‘Auxiliary + Not’ before subject.
|You cannot say:
||Use the contracted form: |
When It’s Ideal to Use Present Perfect Tense
There are a lot of times when you can use present perfect, but only a few times when it’s absolutely necessary.
Most of the time, another tense will work just fine. As far as English grammar is concerned, there are only a few times you absolutely need to use present perfect.
When making “in your life sentences” — “In your life” sentences usually talk about someone’s life from the time a person was born until now. There are four types of “in your life” sentences:
1. Asking if someone has ever done something in his/her life
2. When someone has never done something in his or her life
3. When using Superlatives with “in someone’s life” expressions.
4. When emphasizing the number of times someone has done something in his/her life especially where that thing might happen again.
5. When using a stative verb that started in the past and has continued until now — If we want to show that the action of a stative verb started in the past and has continued until now, we use present perfect + a length of time.
6. When we use present perfect with a length of time and we indicate the number of times the action happened.