Are you wondering when to use the present perfect tense? Or I should say, "have you learned" when to use the present perfect? We use this tense to talk about an action that started in the past and has a connection to the present.
[Note: Click here to learn how to form the present perfect.]
We use the present perfect simple to describe an action or state that started at an unknown or unspecified time in the past AND has a connection to the present.
Learners are sometimes confused by this. They ask, if this tense is called the "present" perfect, why are we talking about "past" actions? Excellent question.
With this tense we're talking about the past and the present. These actions or situations may have started and ended in the past but we are focusing on the effect of this action now in the present moment. Let's look at some examples to try to make this clearer:
In each of these examples we are focusing on the result now or why the action is important at this present time.
It's usually easier for learners to understand the second use which is for actions that started in the past and are still continuing in the present moment.
The tense helps to answer "how long ago" something has been happening (in relation to now) or for how long a period of time something has been happening.
FOR / SINCE
We often use the words "since" (after a specific time) or "for" (a period of time) with this usage.
Note: we cannot use the present perfect tense with a completed time word. For example:
With finished time words we use the present simple.
We frequently use the present perfect tense to ask or talk about whether someone has experienced something during their life (at any time in the past until this moment).
EVER / NEVER / BEFORE
Often, we use the words "ever" (in questions) and "never". We will sometimes also add the word "before."
The following words (adverbials) are often used with the present perfect tense:
Just describes something that happened a short time before this moment.
Just about means that something that was started is almost finished.
Already has two main meanings:
1. Already = before this time (before now)
2. Already = so soon (something happened quickly or earlier than expected)
Yet = at this time, until this time, as soon as this time
Note: Yet usually comes at the end of the sentence. We use yet with negative statements and questions.
We use still in negative sentences with the present perfect to emphasize an action or situation happening or existing before now and continuing into the present:
If you need to review how to form the present perfect tense please check this page. I go over the positive and negative forms, questions, review the irregular past participles and spelling changes and give lots of examples.
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