Present perfect

- This can be a hard tense to learn, especially for non-native English speakers. Present perfect cannot be used with specific expressions of time (such as: "yesterday," "last night," when I lived in Minneapolis," etc.). It can be used with non-specific expressions, like: "never," "ever," "many times," etc. For example: “I have been to France,” or “I’ve never been to Japan”. However, it is incorrect to say: “I have been to France for 4 months.”

Using present perfect
Describing experiences They have traveled all of South America.
Signe has lived in Dominica.
Describing change The rose bush has grown so much.
The paint has faded.
Past accomplishment, without a specific date Stacy has won gold medals before.
Actions that are expected to be completed in the future I still haven’t finished this paper.
It hasn’t stopped raining yet.
Multiple actions or events throughout time We’ve given this presentation four times.
They have seen the movie many times.

- Rules for conjugating present perfect:

  • Have/has + past participle
  • The past participle usually ends with: -ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n.
Verb I/you/we/they She/he/it
Eat Have eaten Has eaten
Live Have lived Has lived
Close Have closed Has closed
Study Have studied Has studied

- Examples:

Many people have climbed mount Kilimanjaro.
The child has grown so much over the years.
They’ve fought on several occasions.
I’ve worked in Silicon Valley.

- Present perfect continuous is used for events or actions that started in the past and continue into the present.

Using present perfect continuous
To describe an event started in the past that is still happening. I’ve been cleaning houses for three months.
Sarah has been waiting all day for you.
To describe recent events or actions. I’ve been eating really healthy lately.
They’ve been working so hard this week.

- Rules for conjugating present perfect continuous:

  • Has been/have been + present participle (base verb + ing)
Verb I/you/we/they She/he/it
Wait Have been waiting Has been waiting
Sleep Have been sleeping Has been sleeping
Work Have been working Has been working
Drink Have been drinking Has been drinking

- Examples:

She has been practicing piano so much in the recent months.
You’ve been travelling for weeks now.
I’ve been cooking since 3pm.

- There are certain verbs that normally are not conjugated in the present perfect continuous (instead in the present perfect). These verbs include: understand, know, and want.

I’ve been understanding your lectures. à I have understood your lectures.

The present perfect tense cannot be used with specific expressions of time like "yesterday", "one month ago," etc. It is used with unspecific expressions of time, as seen in the table below.

Ever Never Once
So far Already Before
Recently To date In the last year
I have been to Japan in the last year.
She has never been to my favorite restaurant.
They have hiked Mount Hood before.