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Present Perfect Tense Structure and Examples



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Present Perfect Tense Formation

We make the Present Perfect tense with the auxiliary verb (have, has) and the past participle of the main verb.

I have made two spelling mistakes.
He has failed this test several times.
We have invited all our friends.
They haven’t visited London before. 

We use ‘have’ when the subject is “I” or any other subject which is plurals. The auxiliary “has” is used with all singular subjects.

The Structure of the Present Perfect Tense

Positive Sentences

Structure: Subject + have/has + past participle

Examples
  • She has won many awards.
  • We have always helped each other.
  • I have rarely been here.

Negative Sentences 

To make the present perfect negative insert, not between have/has and the main verb. The word never is also used instead of not in some instances to make the present perfect negative. Have not and has not is contracted as haven’t and hasn’t respectively.

Structure: Subject + have/has + not + past participle

Examples 
  • We haven’t played cricket for years.
  •  I have not seen it before.
  • You have not performed well in the competition.
  •  She has not yet completed her assignment.
  • They haven’t finished their homework.

Interrogative Sentences

Invert the subject, and the auxiliary verb have or has to make questions in the present perfect tense.

Structure: Have or has + subject + past participle

Examples
  • Have you ever seen him before?
  • How’s your son been?
  • Have they eaten lunch?
  • Have you seen this movie?
Note that not every interrogative sentence is in this structure. Questions that ask who or what did an action don’t follow this questions pattern.

Examples 
  • Who has bought this bike for you?
  • Why have you torn away your clothes?
  • Where have all the students gone?
  • How long have they known each other?

Present Perfect Tense Negative Interrogative Sentences

Sentences in the negative interrogative form are also used to ask questions, but they imply that the person who asks that expected the answer to be (or believes the answer should be) “yes.”

Examples
  • Have you never tested his bike?
  • Have you never watched this movie?
  • Has he never cleaned up his bedroom?

Uses of the Present Perfect Tense

1. The present perfect tense is used to express completed actions in the immediate past. It is used with just, already, and yet. Yet can be used in negatives and questions. Already go before the auxiliary has/have and after the main verb and yet come at the end of the sentence. Both yet and already means before now.

Examples 
  • He has just arrived.
  • I have just watched that movie.
  • He has just finished his dinner.
  • I have already sent her a letter.
  • He has already left.
  • Have you not met her yet?

Just” is used in the meaning of already. It can also be used for “now” and “exactly.”

Note: These adverbs can also be used in the simple past tense.

2. To talk about actions that are completed in the past but whose time is not given or definite

Examples 
  • She has been to China.
  • I have never seen him before.
  • We haven’t met him yet.
  • Have you ever visited that college?
3. It is used with since- and for-phrases to indicate events that have started in the past and continued up to now.
Examples 
I haven’t seen him since last Friday.
They have been at home for two hours this morning.
They have lived in Christchurch for more than thirty years.

4. The adverbs ever and never are used with present perfect tense to ask someone if he/she has ever or never done something in his/her life.
Examples 
  • Have you ever visited this place before?
  • He has never watched any movie.
5. To tell someone how many times you have done something in your life if it might happen again.
Examples 
  • I have visited Mumbai three times. (I might visit again)
  • She has been married three times.
6. Some other adverbs or adverb phrases and conjunctions used with present perfect tense are

(i) Already, just, recently, Ever, yet, till (time), so far, of late, lately, before, (by) by the time, after.

(ii) ‘Ever’ means any time in the past, and ‘always’ “never” is used in the negative sense.

(iii) ‘So far, yet, till’ means up to now or up to this.

 (iv) Of late, lately

Examples
  • I have completed four chapters of mathematics up till now/so far.
  • Have they discussed the issue recently/ lately?
  • I have bought this phone recently.
  • Ali has already left.
Some of these adverbs (mainly the adverb ever) are used in the present perfect tense and adjectives in the superlative degree.
  • She is the most beautiful teacher we have ever met.
  • That is the tallest building I have ever seen.
  • She is the sixth girl who has phoned me twice today.
  • That is the longest paper we have ever attempted

Difference Between Simple Past and Present Perfect

The past simple describes actions completed at a specific time in the past, while the present perfect describes actions completed at an unspecified time.

Past Simple Present Perfect
His father was the head of our department for a long time. (His father still the head) His father has been the head of our department for a long time. (His father is no longer the head)
I contacted him yesterday. I have already contacted him.
I visited London two-time last year. I have been to London several times.
Has your brother ever been to Canada? Yes, he visited Berlin in 2015.
Yes, he has visited Berlin several times.

The verb go has two past participles, i.e., been and gone, but the meaning is different. Gone means going to a place, and been means to a place returning back again.

Example
  • We have not seen David recently. Where is he?
  • He has gone to Manchester. (he is still there)
  • Why were you last week?
  • I have been to Manchester. (he went to Manchester but he has come back)
For is used in the simple past tense to describe an action that started and ended in the past. The present perfect uses since and for to express actions that started in the past and continued up to the present.

Past Simple Present Perfect
We stayed here for three days. We have stayed here for three days/since last Tuesday.
I studied at Cambridge University for two years. (I no longer study there) I have studied at Cambridge University for two years. (I still study there)

With simple past tense, there must be a specific mention of time in the past.


Further Examples of Present Perfect Tense

  • Our classmates have gone on a field trip to Lahore.
  • The road is closed. I think there has been an accident.
  • Look! She has cooked lunch for us.
  • Where’s your brother? He’s gone to the mall.
  • Which movie have you not watched?
  • I haven’t eaten this curry before.
  • You have lied to me many times.
  • She hasn’t taken the children to the park.
  • We are famished; we haven’t had lunch yet!
  • Why haven’t they started their study yet?
  • This is the second time he has reminded me of this.
  • Hakeem and I have known each other since we were in school.
  • I haven’t heard he has passed his test.
  • Where’s your phone?’ I don’t know. I have lost it.
  • She can’t write anything now because she has cut her finger.
  • They have never had a television.
  • He has completed the thesis, but he hasn’t submitted it yet.

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