Present Perfect


What is the present perfect?

  • The present perfect is a verb tense that we use to talk about an unspecified time in the past.

    • I have been to Japan.

    • I have heard that song too many times.

  • To make a sentence in the present perfect, we use this format

    • Subject + have/has + past participle

    • Sarah has left.

  • To make a present perfect sentence negative we add “not”

    • Subject + have/has + not + past participle

    • Sarah has not left. OR Sarah hasn’t left.

How do we use the present perfect?

We use the present perfect to tell about something that has happened in the past.

  • We can use words like ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already or yet

    • Have you ever seen that movie?

    • I’ve seen that movie several times.

    • I haven’t seen it yet.

    • I’ve never seen that movie.

  • We can’t use specific time words like yesterday, last year, or an hour ago. We use the simple past with these words.

    • Yesterday I have seen a movie (incorrect)

    • Yesterday I saw a movie (correct: simple past)

    • I’ve seen a movie (correct: present perfect)

One more thing…

Sometimes it’s difficult to decide what’s an “unspecified time.” Here are some hints.

  • I have had an experience

    • I’ve traveled around the world.

  • Something has changed over time

    • The trees have gotten a lot taller.

  • I haven’t completed something

    • I haven’t done the dishes yet.

  • Multiple actions have happened

    • My professor has called me three times this semester.


I. Fill in the Blanks (more than one possible correct answer)

  • I _________  never  ____________   to France.

  • They _____________     ________________   a lot of movies.

  • ______________    you ever __________________ ?

  • Bob ________________    ____________________   to that song many times.

II. Write or speak

What are three things that you HAVE done? What are three things that you HAVEN’T done, but would like to?


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