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Present Perfect Tense

In this lesson, we will learn how to use the present perfect tense, when to use the present perfect tense and the differences between simple past tense and present perfect tense. Then we'll use the present perfect tense to form questions.

Forming the Present Perfect looks like this:

Subject Helping Verb Main verb
I, you, we they have past participle
She, he, it has past participle


The present perfect consists of two verbs:

Helping verb (have/has) and main verb (past participle).

Here are situations in which we use the Present Perfect Tense:

The present perfect tense joins the past with the present. Use "for" or "since". 

It implies that something began in the past and it continues to the present moment.   


She has been studying since last night.

It has rained for days.

I have known Josh since elementary school.

The present perfect is also used to imply an ongoing period of time.  The action happened repeatedly in the past and the present perfect implies that the action may occur in the future.


There have been a lot of robberies in the neighborhood.

Fred has been known to sell a lot of houses.    

The present perfect can refer to experiences from the past without providing the specific times that they occurred.


We have seen this show already.

I have lost my keys.

There has been an accident.    

Additionally, the present perfect tense is used to provide events that occurred in the recent past. The events still have an effect on the present moment.


I have lost my keys.  I don't have them right now.

Ow!  I have cut my finger.  It's bleeding.

There are differences between the simple past tense and the present perfect tense

The present perfect tense has an unfinished period of time.  It effects the present situation.  The simple past tense implies that the event occurred sometime in the past.


I've lost my driver's license.  I will get it back next year. (I have = I've)  Present Perfect

I lost my driver's license but that was a long time ago.  Past Simple

Differences between present perfect general past and simple perfect for specific time in the past.


We have heard this sermon already. General past

We have heard this sermon last week. Specific time

Here are ways to form questions using Present Perfect and Past Simple.

Yes/ No questions

Have/Has + subject + past participle ….?


Has Mark finished his homework yet?

Present Perfect Have you ever been to Las Vegas?

Present Perfect Did the Chinese invent paper?  Past Simple

Information Questions

Question word + has/have + subject + past participle?


Where have the pirates hidden the treasure?  Present Perfect

Who was the scientist that developed the theory of relativity?  Past Simple

Additional examples:

Structure of present perfect
I've (I have) seen him. I haven't (have not) seen him.  Have I seen him? 
You've done it.  You haven't done it.  Have you done it? 
We've been there.  We haven't been there.  Have we been there? 
They've eaten it.  They haven't eaten it.  Have they eaten it?
He's (he has) gone. He hasn't (has not) gone. Has he gone?
She's (she has) finished. She hasn't finished. Has she finished?
It's (it has) gone. It hasn't gone.

Has it gone?

Present perfect - common mistakes
Common mistakesCorrect versionWhy?
Steven has wrote a new book. Steven has written a new book. The past participle of the verb must be used - wrote is past simple, written is the past participle.
Did you have seen him before? Have you seen him before? The helping verb 'have' is used in the present perfect- it is inverted with the person (you have becomes have you).
I didn't have seen him before. I haven't seen him before. The helping verb 'have' is used in the present perfect- to make it negative we simply add not(n't).
I am here since last week. I have been here since last week. The present perfect is used to show an action which continues to the present (an unfinishedaction).
I've been knowing him for 5 years. I've known him for 5 years. Verbs such as know, want, like, etc. (stative verbs) suggestpermanent states, not actions, so are used in the simple form, NOT the -ing form.

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