Present Perfect Tense 

When do we use the Present Perfect Tense? What is the difference between the Past Simple and the Present Perfect? Pff, I don’t really understand the use of the Present Perfect Tense.

Yes, the Present Perfect is difficult to understand for many of the English learners. But, do not give up, let’s have a look at the use of the Present Perfect below.

How to Use the Present Perfect Tense

1.  We use the Present Perfect to talk about finished actions in the past, and the actions have a result in the present.

We focus on the result of the action, not the action itself:

  • She has given birth to a beautiful baby girl. (The result is they have a baby daughter now.)
  • I have forgotten my glasses at home. (The result is I cannot see clearly now.)
  • He has passed the job interview. (The result is he has a job now.)
  • We have prepared the garden for the birthday party. (The result is the garden is ready now for the birthday party.)
  • He has lost a lot of weight. (The result is now he is much thinner.)
  • Martha has eaten all the cookies. (The result is there are no cookies left for the other people.)

2. We use the Present Perfect to talk about actions started in the past but not finished at the time of speaking, the actions continue in the present.

See the examples below:

  • Karen has lived in Argentina for five years. (She started living in Argentina five   years ago and still lives there.)
  • He has worked as a fireman all his life. (He started working as a fireman in the past and he is still a fireman today.)
  • He has played in the same team since 2014. (He started his football career in a team, and he still plays in the same team.)

For and Since

With the actions that started in the past and continue in the present we use for and since. We use them to answer the question how long.

since + a specific time point (It tells us about the starting point of an event.)

  • I have known her since 2006.
  • They have been married since March.
  • We haven’t seen him since Monday.

for + a period of time (It tell us about the duration of time.)

  • I haven’t eaten anything for six hours.
  • She has been ill for two days.
  • They have been married for three years.
  • The man has been at the door for 25 minutes.

 3. We use the Present Perfect to talk about actions that happened in the past but the time period is not finished at the time of speaking.

  • She has drunk two liters of water today. (The time period today is still continuing.)
  • I have called him three times this morning. (The time period this morning is still continuing, it is still morning time.)
  • I have seen her at the shopping mall this week. (The time period this week is still continuing.)


If we say, "I called him three times this morning", we understand that the time period this morning is over; it can be afternoon or evening now.

4. We use the Present Perfect to talk about experiences throughout our lives. (From a time in the past until now.)

  • She has traveled to 16 countries so far.
  • I have eaten shrimp two times in my life.
  • Have you ever been to Slovenia?
  • I have never played golf before.
  • He has slept in sleeping bag many times in the past.
  • We have seen penguins in Antarctica.

How to Form the Present Perfect Tense

We use the past participle of the verbs in the Present Perfect Tense. 

Past participle of the verb means the third form of the verb. For example, when we talk about the verb 'go', the first form or the infinitive form of the verb remains the same and it is go. The second form of the verb is used with the Simple Past Tense and it is went. The third form of the verb or the past participle is gone.

Infinitive form of the verb:go

Second form of the verb:went

Third form of the verb:gone

You cannot learn the third form of all the verbs in one day but day by day you will learn the past participle form of the verbs in the list.


The good thing about the Present Perfect Tense is once you learn the third form of the verbs, you use them in positive and negative sentences and questions without changing as you do in the Simple Past Tense.

In the Simple Past Tense, when the sentence is positive you use the second form of the verbs(i.e. went), but in negative sentences, you use the first form of the verb with did not(i.e. didn't go.). In the Present Perfect Tense you always use the third form of the verbs(i.e. gone). In positive and negative sentences and questions. 

Positive Sentences (+)

We use have/has + past participle to form the positive sentences in the Present Perfect Tense.

  • For the subjects I,you,we,they we use have + past participle.

       Subject + have + V3

       I have eaten lunch.

       You have finished most of the work.

       They have left the office.

  • For the subject he,she,it we use has + past participle.

       Subject + has + V3

       He has washed his car.

       She has broken my favourite cup.

       It has stopped raining.

Let's see some more examples:

  • My mom has made Tiramisu for our guests.
  • I have found my keys. They were on the kitchen table.
  • Sara has bought a new pair of jeans.
  • They have reserved the table for us.
  • We have won the match.
  • I have cleaned the floor. Don't enter the room. It is still wet.
  • Silvia has taken the car to the mechanic. 
  • They have built a huge shopping mall on the other side of the city.

We usually use the short form of have/has in positive sentences.

For example:

We have won the match. We can write the sentence again with the short form of have: We've won the match.

The short form or the contracted form for the subjects are:

I have - I've 

You have - you've

We have - we've 

They have - they've

He has - he's 

She has - she's

It has - It's

Let's see more examples:

  • She's (she has) sent the money to his brother. 
  • They've (they have) closed the mall. 
  • It's (it has) been a great day.
  • You've (you have) had two hamburgers.
  • He's (he has) remembered where he left his notebook.

Negative Sentences (-)

We use have/has + not + past participle to form negative sentences in the Present Perfect Tense.

  • For the subjects I,you,we,they we use have not (haven't) + past participle 

       Subject + have not + V3

       I haven't seen her since Monday.

       We haven't decided our wedding venue yet.

       They haven't delivered my parcel yet.

P.S. As you see in the examples above, we usually use the short form-contracted form (haven't) in the negative sentences.

Let's see some more examples:

  • We haven't arranged George's birthday party yet.
  • You haven't taken a break since the morning. Let's have a coffee together.
  • Oh, you haven't gotten dressed yet! We'll be late.
  • Carla hasn't heard the news about Jake. It's so bad that he couldn't get the job.
  • I haven't finished the book yet. I can lend you the book on Tuesday.
  • I haven't washed your red dress. Today you can wear the black one. It also looks good on you.
  • He hasn't texted me in 3 days. I think this time we're having a serious problem in our relationship.
  • Aaron said he's been mad busy this week, I want to take him to the countryside this weekend for a relaxing day, it will be a nice surprise for him. 

We usually use the time expression yet with negative sentences in the Present Perfect Tense. 

Click here to learn more about the time expressions we use with the Present Perfect Tense.

Questions (?)

Yes / No Questions 

We start the question with have or has to form Yes / No Questions in the Present Perfect Tense. Then we add the subject and the past participle with the rest of the sentence. 

  • For the subject I,you,we,they we start the question with have.

       Have + subject + V3 ?

       Have you eaten your breakfast?

       Have they seen your message?

       Have I given you they keys?

  • For the subjects he,she,it we start the question with has.

       Has she started the Danish course?

       Has he taken the trash out?

       Has it been a tough day? You look tired.

Let's see more examples:

  • Have you fed the fish?
  • Has Daniella gone on holiday?
  • Have they ever eaten tacos? I want to take them to a good Mexican restaurant.
  • Have you ever been to Moscow?
  • Has he woken up? I need his help with my bicycle, I think its chain is broken.

Wh- Questions

We start the question with a question word(what,how,who,etc.) to form Wh- Questions in the Present Perfect Tense. then we add have/has + past participle and the rest of the sentence.

  • What have you bought from the store?
  • Who has taken the scissors on my desk?
  • Where has he put the bills?
  • Where have you been?
  • How long have you cooked the meat?
  • Why has he left without telling me?

Ready to Practice?

Click here to try an exercise about the present perfect tense mixed forms.

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