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Part D. The Present Perfect Tense

Part D. The Present Perfect Tense

not all definite time expressions may not be used with this tense.  

Discuss the following questions about the present perfect tense and offer some examples:

  • How is the present perfect formed? It is formed by have/has+ the past participle(V3)
  • How is it used? It has 3 main functions: unfinished actions, life experiences (indefinite time) / finished actions that can be repeated, and actions finished in the recent past (past to present relevance).
  • Which time words are used with it? for, since, yet, just, already, ever, and never

The present perfect tense has three main functions:

  • Indefinite Time

Present perfect is used to describe actions that occurred in the past, but where the exact time is not important (indefinite time). In this type of sentences, the focus is on the action. It is typically used to describe experiences.

  • I have been to France.
  • I have written a travel book on places of interest in France.


  • Past-to-Present Relevance

The second is to describe actions that occurred in the past but have a relevance (connection) to the present.

I have spoken to Karen about the meeting and we are ready to begin.
I have been to Italy and know more about the Vatican now.

  • Unfinished Past

The present perfect can express unfinished past when used with for or since to show duration.

I have loved my wife since the first time I saw her.
I have avoided politics for as long as I remember.
I have known John for almost ten years.


  • These time expressions are frequently used with the present perfect:

     already, ever, never, just, yet, recently, lately, for, and since.

  • Already implies the action happened before it was expected.

I have already made an appointment with his manager.

  • Just means the action recently occurred.

We have just spoken on the phone.

  • Yet means the action is expected to happen or hasn’t happened. It is used at the end of the sentence.

He hasn’t made a decision yet.
Haven’t you come to an agreement yet?

  • Some time expressions are used to indicate what is happening now or in the not so distant past. Both can be used before the main verb; either can be used at the end of the sentence.


  • One is recently:

He’s taken a lot of medicine recently.

He has recently taken a lot of medicine.

  • The other is lately:

Yes, he has felt a little off lately.

Yes, he has lately felt a little off.

  • Ever is generally used only in questions requiring a positive or negative response.  

Have you ever studied Chinese calligraphy?  (question)

No, I haven’t ever studied Chinese calligraphy.

                  I have never studied Chinese calligraphy.
No, I haven’t.

No, I have not never studied Chinese calligraphy. (incorrect)


  • For emphasizes how long an action lasts(a period of time).

I have studied violin for two years.
We have waited to see the doctor for more than an hour.

  • Since emphasizes the time the action started and the duration of the action (a specific point in time).

I have lived and worked in Melbourne since 2002.
She hasn’t been outside Australia since the birth of the baby.