Present Perfect Tense in English – English Grammar

Present Perfect Tense

Present perfect tense is used to refer to an action that started in the past and continues to the present time:

The film has already started.

Sometimes the action is completed before the present time:

She’s got a new haircut.

The structure

Subject + have / has + past participle:

Alice has bought a new car. 

We’ve had a new baby.

Frequently used adverbs of time

  • Already: I’ve already had chickenpox. So, my body is now immune from / to this disease.
    • Used to show that something has happened too soon before the expected time
  • Ever since: We’ve been friends ever since we were at school together.
  • For: I’ve not seen my brother for years.
  • Lately: What have you been doing lately?
  • Recently: He has recently been promoted to Assistant Manager.
  • Since: We’ve been waiting here since two o’clock.
  • So far: So far, our company has had 40 satisfied clients / customers.
  • Until now: There has not been any news from them until now.

Note: In the above examples, for is used to show the duration of an action, and since is used to focus on the start of an action.

Note: When the exact time of an action is specified, you should use simple past tense.

Wrong: Kate has graduated from medical school in 2008.

Right: Kate graduated from medical school in 2008.

Another function of the present perfect tense is to explain an action that was completed at some point from the past to the present, while the time of the action is unimportant:

Modern computers have become smaller and much easier to use these days.

Present perfect continuous

The main difference between the present perfect tense and the present perfect continuous tense is that the latter focuses on the continuity of an action from an earlier time to the present. In this sense, the action has been continuing nonstop. Therefore, the length of time is often mentioned in the present perfect continuous tense:

It has been raining cats and dogs all day long.

When an action occurs at intervals, you should avoid using the present perfect continuous tense:

Wrong: I’ve been calling you a number of times. 

Right: I’ve called you a number of times.

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