The Present Perfect in English-Have You Ever Used This Tense?
Last posting we talked about the present perfect tense. In this posting we continue talking about the present perfect. Today I review how to form the present perfect and how to use this tense. In addition, I talk about 8 special words that often require the present perfect tense: for, since, ever, never, already, yet, still, and just. I talk about what these words mean in the present perfect. I also talk about how to construct sentences using the present perfect with these words. Finally, I give you example sentences. At the end, the download will give you some practice exercises using these words in the present perfect.
Reviewing the present perfect.
The present perfect is formed by conjugating the verb have in the simple present. Then we add the past participle of the main verb of the sentence.
I have cooked dinner. I haven’t cooked dinner
Have you cooked dinner? Yes, I have. No, I haven’t.
Where have you cooked dinner? I have cooked dinner in many places, but mostly at home.
How is the present perfect used?
The present perfect is usually used for an action that was started in the past, but is not yet finished. It is still going on in the present.
She has lived in California for 6 years. This means that she moved to California 6 years ago. She still lives in California, however.
We can also use the present perfect to describe and action that happened many times in the past. You probably don’t know the exact time it happened. The exact time may not be important.
I have been to Disneyland 3 times. This means that you visited Disneyland 3 times in the past. We don’t know exactly when, and it isn’t important. The important thing is that you visited Disneyland more than one over time.
The present perfect with for and since
We use the present perfect with for to talk about an action that started in the past and is still continuing in the present. However, we don’t know exactly when the activity started.
My cousin has worked at Lutheran Hospital for 5 years. We know that your cousin began to work at Lutheran Hospital 5 years ago. We know he still works there. We don’t know, however the exact dare the he began working.
Use the present perfect with since to talk about an action started in the past that is still continuing in the present. In this case, though, we do know the exact date the activity started.
My cousin has worked at Lutheran Hospital since October of 2011. This time we know the exact date that your cousin began working at Lutheran Hospital. We know that he still works there.
The present perfect with ever and never
We use ever with the present perfect to ask a question. When we use it, we are talking about a long period of time, possibly your whole life. Use this structure:
Have/Has + subject + ever + past participle
Have you ever visited China? This means, in your whole life, from the time you were born till now, did you visit China?
The word never is used in the present perfect tense to answer a question negatively. We use the affirmative structure, however. Here is the formula:
Subject + have/has + never + past participle
Using the present perfect with already, yet, and still
We use the present perfect with already to talk about an activity in the past that was finished sooner than you expected it to be done. Use the following structure:
Subject + have/has + already + past participle
Ann: Don’t forget to pay you taxes.
Ann did not think that Bob had paid his taxes. She thought he forgot. But Bob paid them sooner than expected. Ann is surprised.
We use yet to talk about an action that we are working on, but it not finished. Everyone is surprised, however. They though you should be finished with it by now. We often use yet in a question. Use these formulas for a question and answer:
Have/Has + subject + past participle + yet for a question
Subject + haven’t/hasn’t + past participle + yet for the answer. We answer in the negative.
Ann is surprised. She is hungry and thinks dinner should be ready by now. She doesn’t understand why Bob does not have dinner ready.
We use still with the present perfect to talk about an activity we may or may not have started in the past. We are not yet finished with it. In fact we will probably not be finished with it for awhile. Here is the structure to use:
Subject + have/has + still + past participle
This means that I have not had time to make dinner. I have other things to do before I can cook it, so it will not be ready soon. You need to be patient!
The present perfect with just
We use just in the present perfect to talk about an activity that took place in the very recent past. Use this structure:
Subject + have/has + just + past participle
There are many ways that we can use the present perfect tense. It is generally for an activity started in the past, but continuing into the present. We also use it when we don’t know exactly when an activity started in the past, or the exact time if not important. In addition, we can use it for an activity that happened more than once in the past, over a period of time. Finally, we often use the present perfect with the following special words: for, since, ever, never, already, yet, still, and just. The download will give you some additional practice using this special words in the present perfect.
Idioms of the Day
- From the get-go –This means from the beginning. I’m not surprised that Joe got fired. He was a bad employee from the get-go.
- To wear many or several hats –This means to have several roles in life. Dr. Smith wears many hats. He’s a doctor, a father, a great bowler, and is active in his church.