Present Perfect Tense

What is present perfect tense?

Present perfect is used to explain an action that only happened in a short time ago. It combines actions that happened in a short period of time.

The present perfect tense is used to reveal the present and past in everyday sentences. It combines the present tense and the perfect forms to express actions that only happened in a short time ago.

How to form the present perfect tense?

In forming the present perfect tense of any verb, you will have to combine the verb “to have” and the past participle of the main verb of the particular sentence. That is, the past participle of a regular verb with –ed added. An example of this type of tense is, “have eaten”, where “have” is the present tense and “eaten” being the past participle. Another example; have written. With “has” as the present tense and “written” being the past participle.

ModeSubject + HavePast Participle
AffirmativeThey haveeaten
Negative and affirmativeThey haven’teaten
InterrogativeHave theyeaten?
Negative and interrogativeHaven’t theyeaten?

We can form sentences using the examples above:

  • She has written the letter.
  • They have left the house.
  • They have eaten lunch.

When present perfect tense can be used?

Present perfect can be used in some situations like the following ones:

  1. To describe an action that started in the past and continuing in the future. Example, I have been watching television. [Still ongoing].
  2. To describe an action performed during a period that is yet to pass. Example, she has been to the casino twice today. [The day is yet to end].
  3. To describe a repeated action in an unspecified period between the past and now. For example, we have watched this movie several times.
  4. To describe an action has been completed in the very recent past and can expressed using “just”. For example, we have just returned from the bank.
  5. To express an action when the time is not important. Example, she has lost her book.


There are some situations where you cannot use Present Perfect Tense. For example, you cannot use it with specific expression of time that has already past or when you want to ask details about when, where and who but instead use SIMPLE PAST.

Examples of present perfect tense

Actions that started in the past and continues in the present.

  • I haven’t seen her for ages.
  • She has been frequenting there of late.

Actions performed during a period that has not yet completed.

  • I haven’t seen her this morning.
  • He has been to the fields twice this week.
  • They have to the cinema twice today.

When repeated in an unspecified time between the past and now.

  • She has lost her book.
  • She has broken his heart.

When completed in the very recent past [expressed using “just”].

  • She has started a new company.
  • I have just finished eating.
  • He has just left.

When the specific time of the action is not important.

  • She has watched the movie.
  • They haven’t been here.
  • I have seen it somewhere.

Additionally, you can use time related adverbs in present perfect tense but be sure not to specify the time when it was completed which include; Already, Just and Yet. Here are some examples.

  • She has just finished watching it.
  • She did cook but we have already had lunch.
  • I haven’t been there yet.

Present perfect tense can also be used to ask questions, for example:

  • Where have you been?
  • Have you seen john?
  • Has he seen him yet?

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