Le present perfect simple (I have been, he has worked…)

By Famworld
Le present perfect simple (I have been, he has worked…)

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:

  • I've lost my keys:
  • I have bought a new car:
  • I've prepared dinner:
  • Have you seen my pen? No, I haven't seen it:
  • We've missed the bus:
  • He's hurt his finger.

You can also add 'just' or 'already', to talk about something that just happened:

  • Something has just happened.
  • They've just arrived.
  • We've already met.

To talk about our experiences. We don't say when exactly it happened but we can use non-specific time expressions like:

  • Before / so far / until now / up to now / ever (?) / never (-) / once / twice / many times / several times;
  • Have you ever been to China? => No, I've never been to China before. But I've been to India three times.

With since, to talk about changes that have occurred since a specific moment:

  • Paris has changed a lot since the last time I've been there;
  • My japanese has improved since I moved to Tokyo.

With for, to talk about a certain period or duration (two hours, three years, five months…):

  • I've known Sam for seven years;
  • I've been thirsty for hours.

With yet, to talk about an incomplete action (only in negative sentences or questions):

  • Have you read the book yet?
  • I haven't paid my rent yet.
  • She hasn't arrived yet.

With so far, until now or up to now to tell how something has happened so far:

  • I've just visited Sydney and Melbourne so far;
  • Until now I've lived in two countries.

With an unfinished time period (recently, today, this week, this month, in the last year):

  • I haven't seen him this week;
  • She has drunk three cups of coffee today;
  • Have you heard from Tina recently?
  • I've visited a lot of places in the last few days.

We cannot use the present perfect with a finite period of time (three hours ago, friday 13th, last year, 2013, yesterday…):

  • I've seen her yesterday.
  • I've been to Japan last year.

I didn't or I haven't?

  • I didn't eat breakfast this morning (= the morning is over and I didn't eat breakfast);
  • I haven't eaten breakfast this morning (= it's still morning and maybe I'll have breakfast later).

Been to

We use been to to say that the person we are talking about visited a place and came back (a life experience):

  • He has been to school today;
  • I've been to South Korea;
  • They've never been to India.

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:

  • Bob has gone to London (= Bob is in London or he is going there);
  • Bob has been to London (= Bob has been to London, and he came back).

Have + Had:

  • They've had (= they have had) many problems with the car this month;
  • I've had (= I have had) three cups of coffee today.

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