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The Use of Present Perfect Tense in the English Language

The present perfect has a distinct form and function. It informs the listener (or reader) about past actions and the present moment simultaneously.

Valentina Dordevic
Valentina Dordevic

The present perfect has a distinct form and function. It informs the listener (or reader) about past actions and the present moment simultaneously. It makes a link that connects the dots and explains the effects of past events on this moment.

If something has happened, it means a couple of things.

1. It happened before the time of speaking.
2. The exact time it happened (and various other details) are not particularly important.
3. This event made a change. Its outcome is relevant at the point of speaking.

How Present Perfect Tense is Formed

The present perfect has two elements: the present tense of the auxiliary verb to have (have or has) and the past participle of the verb we want to use. The latter is formed by adding the suffix -ed to the verb’s infinitive form. For example: have prevailed, have finished, have looked, have painted, and many more.

Irregular verbs are exceptions, and past participle of those can be found in the third column on any list of such verbs. Here are some examples of present perfect irregular verbs: have won, has eaten, has beaten, have been, have seen, has chosen, has written, and so on.

When to Use It (With Examples)

Several different scenarios call for the use of the present perfect tense.

  • We use it to refer to actions (or situations) that began at some point in the past and are still a fact.

For example

Anna and Joe have been married for 15 years.
  • We also use it to talk about actions that took place within a timeframe that still isn’t over.
They have been to the seaside twice this summer.

This example sentence implies that it is still summer, so they may go to the seaside for the third time.

  • Another instance when we use present perfect is when we mention repeated actions that happened during an undefined period—and are expected to keep repeating.

Example:

They have won the tournament several times.
  • One of the most common uses of present perfect is to refer to a completed action that took place very recently.
I have just read an article that made me realize that my views on world politics were naive.
  • Another typical use of this verb tense is to talk about actions that are completed at a certain moment, and no one really cares when or where, as long as they’re completed.

Example:

She has answered all questions correctly.

Here, the present perfect denotes that the questions have been answered, the action has been completed successfully, and it is all that matters.

He has been formally charged with a crime.

This sentence tells us that the subject was charged for something. We don’t know what, when, or why, but the fact that he has been charged makes his life complicated.

  • Finally, we use this tense, along with the adverb ever, to talk about experiences that we had in our lives until the present moment.

Example:

That was the best sandwich I have ever eaten in my life.

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More Examples of Present Perfect in English

I haven’t heard from her this week.
I have just had lunch.
This vampire novel was the worst book I have ever read.
Oh, excellent—the door is locked, and I have lost my keys.
He has read the complete works of James Joyce.
She has reported them several times, but they still make noise all night long.
Someone has ruined the monument.
They have built a house in the village.
She has never met his parents.
Have you ever been to Tokyo?
Researchers have recently discovered some disturbing facts.
I’ve studied all day without a break.
Someone has stolen my car.
Life has been good to me.
I have finished the article that gave me such a headache.
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Valentina Dordevic

Hello! My name is Valentina. Book digesting is my specialty. I transform book ideas into easy-to-follow summaries, articles, study guides, reviews, essays, analyses, slides, or e-books.


Milena Lazova

I'm an ESL teacher with over 7 years of experience in providing original content. I really like writing educational articles which may help others learn some aspects of English.

Valentina Dordevic

Hello! My name is Valentina. Book digesting is my specialty. I transform book ideas into easy-to-follow summaries, articles, study guides, reviews, essays, analyses, slides, or e-books.

Beth Taylor

Hello! My name is Beth. I'm from France. I'm a French and English native speaker and I really like writing.