The present perfect tense is a grammatical combination of the present tense and the perfect aspect that is used to express a past event that has present consequences.
The forms are present because they use the present tense of the auxiliary verb “have”, and perfect because they use that auxiliary in combination with the past participle of the main verb.
Forming the Present Perfect Tense
The present perfect tense is formed using the following structure:
- Affirmative: Subject + Have / Has + Past Participle
- Negative: Subject + Haven’t / Hasn’t + Past Participle
- Question: Have / Has + Subject + Past Participle
The auxiliary verb “have” changes to match the subject of the sentence:
- For I/he/she/it: has
- For you/we/they: have
- I have eaten breakfast.
- She has finished her homework.
- They have seen that movie before.
- I haven’t eaten breakfast yet.
- She hasn’t finished her homework.
- We haven’t received the package.
The past participle of the main verb is usually formed by adding -ed to the base form of regular verbs. For irregular verbs, the past participle form is different and must be learned.
In summary, the present perfect tense is formed by using the auxiliary verb “have” + the past participle form of the main verb, and the form of “have” changes to match the subject of the sentence.
- eat: eaten
- finish: finished
- see: seen
When Do We Use the Present Perfect Tense
To Show the Result of an Action
To Talk about Actions that Started in the Past and Continue to the Present
Events that Have Occurred Up to Now (Yet)
Events that Occurred before You Expected (Already)
Events that Recently Occurred (Just)
Express Frequency (Once/Twice/…)
Talking about General Experiences (Ever, Never)
Events that Began in the Past and Haven’t Changed (For, Since)
The Differences between “For” and “Since”
“For” talks about a period or duration of time. It doesn’t have to be an exact number, but it needs to refer to a period of time.
- For the weekend: We’re going to New York for the weekend.
- For ages: I’ve known you for ages.
- For a long time: I have been studying English for a long time.
“Since” refers to a specific point in time
- I have lived here since 2010.
- It has been raining since 8 a.m
- I have been walking since 5 p.m.
Differences between Past Simple & Present Perfect Tense
The past simple and present perfect are two tenses used to talk about events or actions that occurred in the past. However, there are some important differences between the two:
- Time frame: The past simple is used to talk about specific, finished events in the past, while the present perfect is used to talk about events that started in the past and continue to have an effect on the present.
- Completion: The past simple is used to express that an action was completed in the past, while the present perfect is used to express that an action is not necessarily completed but has a connection to the present.
- Specific time: The past simple is often used with specific time expressions, such as “yesterday,” “last year,” or “in 1999.” The present perfect is not usually used with specific time expressions, but rather with expressions such as “ever,” “yet,” or “just.”
- I saw a movie yesterday. (past simple, specific time)
- I have seen that movie before. (present perfect, no specific time)
In summary, the past simple is used to talk about a specific event in the past with a clear beginning and end, while the present perfect is used to talk about an event in the past that has an impact on the present.