Present Perfect Tense

by | Dec 19, 2018 | English Grammar Lesson | 4 comments

How do you use the present perfect tense when speaking in English? Many languages have a past tense to refer to past time, and a present tense to refer to present time. English has these, too, but it also has the present perfect tense, which related past actions to the present. For many English learners, it is difficult to understand the present perfect tense because it doesn’t exist in many other languages. Because of this, we will go through 5 examples when you should use the present perfect tense and NOT the past simple tense.  We will go through 5 examples of the present perfect simple and past simple explained, looking at the use of each! 

Watch the video lesson to learn how do we us the Present Perfect Simple

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How do we use the Present Perfect Simple?

 Below you find a few examples of how we use the present perfect simple tense in English

  1. Today I’m going for coffee with Julie. I have known her for 10 years already!

We use present perfect because it’s an unfinished action – it started in the past, but it is still happening in the present – past and present are connected. Also, time expression “already” signals present perfect should be used. We are not using past simple because the action is happening, as we said, both in the past and the present. Past simple is used when we refer to actions completely in the past. If we said “I knew Julie for 10 years” it would mean that the persons lost touch and no longer hang out.

  1. I have lost my keys and now I can’t get into my apartment

Here we use present perfect with a finished action in the past with a result in the present. The action of losing of keys is in the past, but the result of it is in the present, because the person in the present can’t enter the apartment. If we used past simple, it would be completely in the past: “Yesterday I lost my key and a friend came to pick me up”.

  1. I have never been to Paris.

Here we use present perfect because it signals an unfinished action. It is connected with the present – so the person never in his life in his past has been to Paris, but that is still true in the present. Because of the connection with the present we cannot use past simple, a tense which only refers to the past.

  1. They have eaten Thai food.

The action again refers to undetermined amount of time. Sometimes in their lives they’ve tried Thai food, and that is still relevant in the present. If we used past simple, we would need to give a specific point in the past: Yesterday we ate Thai food.

  1. I have just phoned

If there is an action that has just happened, we use present perfect.

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