The present perfect simple is despite its name one of the most difficult tenses to master, but this lesson should enlighten you a little. The best way to remember how to use the present perfect is therefore to practice making sentences and repeating them.
Present continuous, past perfect, past simple, present perfect… A little tour of English conjugation quickly made you understand that the logic of tenses in English was not the same as in French. No worries ! Here we explain how it works, and we explain more precisely what the differences are between past tense and present perfect, two past tenses in English that are often confused.
This course is written by Adrien Jourdan from the ISpeakSpokeSpoken website and YouTube channel. He explains how to finally stop mixing the present perfect and the past tense in English.
Use of the present perfect in English
We use the present perfect to talk about an action that happened before at an unspecified time but which has a link to the present. You can use the present perfect in the following situations:
To talk about a recent action:
You can also add 'just' or 'already', to talk about something that just happened:
To talk about our experiences. We don't say when exactly it happened but we can use non-specific time expressions like:
With since, to talk about changes that have occurred since a specific moment:
With for, to talk about a certain period or duration (two hours, three years, five months…):
With yet, to talk about an incomplete action (only in negative sentences or questions):
With so far, until now or up to now to tell how something has happened so far:
With an unfinished time period (recently, today, this week, this month, in the last year):
We cannot use the present perfect with a finite period of time (three hours ago, friday 13th, last year, 2013, yesterday…):
I didn't or I haven't?
We use been to to say that the person we are talking about visited a place and came back (a life experience):
Has gone to and has been to have different meanings! been to is used to describe the experience, gone to to say that the person has already left or is currently at the place we are talking about:
Have + Had: