Today I posted a short video on Youtube (which you can see here) explaining the uses of the present perfect tense.
Present Perfect is used to express three different situations in English, but before I address the uses of the Present Perfect, lets look at the construction of the present perfect.
The important thing to remember when constructing the present perfect is that we must use the past participle (third form of the verb) so we have to make sure we know all our irregular verbs, and they are something I can’t teach you!
Construction positive sentences in the present perfect:
I you we they + have + past participle + the rest of the sentence
I have been to see Michael
He she it + has + past participle + the rest of the sentence
Mary has been to America
Construction of a negative sentence in the present perfect:
I you we they + haven’t (have not) + past participle + the rest of the sentence
I haven’t seen Michael
He she it + hasn’t (has not) + past participle + the rest of the sentence
She hasn’t been to America
Construction of a question in present perfect:
Have + I you we they + past participle + the rest of the question
Have you seen Michael?
Has + he she it + past participle + the rest of the question
Has she been to America?
Using the present perfect
There are three standard (and easy to understand) uses of the present perfect in English
The present perfect is used to express an action that started in the past and continues until now.
For example: you have been reading this blog for a few minutes.
This sentence tells us that your action (reading the bolg) started in the past, and continues to now.
We can also use this construction to talk about an action that started in the past and goes on to now, but is not happening at this moment.
For example: I have been teaching English for twenty years.
This sentence tells us that twenty years ago I started teaching English and I am still teaching. But what it also shows is that the action teaching English is not something I do all the time, but rather it is something I do sometimes, but also something I HAVE DONE for twenty years
The present perfect is also used to talk about an action in the past that is finished, but we are not interested in when the action happened.
I have been to America.
This sentence tells us that I have been to America, but it does not tell us when. It is not important when.
If we wanted to say when we went to America, we would use the past simple
I was in America last year.
You can see from the past simple sentence we use a time point (last year).
The last use of the present perfect is to express an experience
I have eaten snails!
This sentence tells us about an experience in the past. If I wanted to tell you when I eat the snails I would have to use past simple.
Tom: I have eaten snails
Mary: Oh really, when was that
Tom: A few years ago in France
There you have the basic rules and uses for present perfect tense. For more information click here to go to my website www.smartlanguagesolutuons.com