Friday, February 22, 2013

5 Main Ideas of English's Most Difficult Tense: Present Perfect

Of all the tenses in English, the present perfect tense presents the most challenges for students.

The present perfect is used differently in every language and does not follow the same logic or pattern.  For example, in French, it is used to describe actions that are finished, while in Portuguese, it is usually used to describe actions that continue into the future.

English is different from both of these languages, and the following list will give you a broad sense of how the present perfect is used in English.

Here are the 5 major ideas behind the present perfect in English:

1.  recent event

  • The Pope has resigned.
  • There has been a tsunami in Japan.
  • The city of Lisbon has established a new traffic pattern in Marquês de Pombal.

2.   continues into the future

  • They have lived in San Diego for 19 years.  ( They continue to live in San Diego.)
  • I have known Julia since I was a little girl.  (I will always know Julia.)
  • She has been suffering from the flu for more than a week!  (Poor thing is still sick.)
Note:  This is the present perfect progressive (has/have + been + gerund (ing)

3.  NOT finished...still on the to-do list...

  • We still haven't seen the new Tarantino movie. 
  • They haven't registered their new car with the DMV yet .
  • I still haven't spoken to my boss about the report.

4.  unspecified past (relevant to the present moment)

  • I think I have been here before.
  • You have met each other before, haven't you?
  • I have worked with the office from New York, so I am familiar with the procedures.
  • Have you ever been to California?
  • Have you ever tried octopus salad?
Note: These statements/questions are relevant to the present moment.

5.  describing frequency 

  • She and her husband have traveled to Africa five times.
  • I've only visited Asia once.
  • The children loved the movie so much that they have already watched it twice.
Note: With these sentences, use once, twice, three times, four times, etc., as underlined here.


  1. Hi Megan,
    Can u pls explain the past perfect.


  2. In past perfect the auxiliary verb 'have/has' would be in past form i.e., 'had' followed by the main verb in past participle form.

    If two actions take place in the past, the first action that took place will have a past perfect and the latter one takes simple past.


  3. That’s amazing! Thank you so much!


Featured Post

When do I use HAVE and HAS?

"Have" and "has" are both present tense conjugations of the verb "to have," and we use "have" or &q...