Everything to learn better...




The present perfect tense

Explainer Video

Tutor: Kat


The present perfect tense

​​In a nutshell

The present perfect is a verb tense used to talk about actions which happened either at an unspecified time in the past, or started at some point in the past and continue into the present. You can use this tense to talk about life experiences as well as ongoing, long term or unfinished actions. In this summary, you'll discover how to identify and use the present perfect.

Uses of the present perfect

The present perfect is used to describe actions which are unfinished, they began sometime in the past but continue into the present.


Chris has lived in Leeds for ten years.

In example one the verb has lived in the present perfect tense tells us that this action continues into the present, meaning that Chris still lives in Leeds today. This is an example of an unfinished action. To compare, if the verb is changed into the past simple the meaning changes significantly.

Present perfect

past simple

Chris has lived in Leeds for ten years.

Chris lived in Leeds for ten years.

Changing the verb into the past simple tense tells us that the action is finished or completed; Chris no longer lives in Leeds.

For and since

Present perfect verbs are often followed by for or since in order to define a period of time that something has been happening for. 

  • ​He has played the piano since she was five.
  • They have known Martina for a few months.
  • Lisa has known about that since yesterday.

Unfinished time

You can often spot sentences in the present perfect tense as they refer to periods of time which are unfinished, for example this year, this week, today. Other time expressions such as already and yet are also used with the present perfect.

  • I haven't seen him ​today.
  • Loren has gone on holiday this year.
  • Have you been to the office this month?
  • Reena hasn't seen the big surprise yet.
  • Gary has already read that book.

Life experiences

Life is by definition an unfinished time period so the present perfect is used to talk about one's experiences in life up until the present. In these types of phrases you'll often see the words ever and never used.

  • ​​I have never visited France.
  • ​Have you ever flown a kite?
  • Mo has seen all of those movies before.

Forming the present perfect

The present perfect is formed by a subject, the present tense of the verb to have, (have or has) and a past participle.



Past participle

I, you, we, they


walked, talked, been, done, taken, seen, made

He, she, it


The past participle of a lot of verbs is the same as their past simple form (ending in -ed). For example, walked, lived, or talkedHowever, there are a lot of verbs with irregular past participles which you just have to learn but most of them end in either -n-en, or -ne. You can see some examples of these alongside their infinitive forms in the table below.

to be

to go

to see

to make

to have

To eat

To write

To do 

To know

To come











Tip: The present perfect often appears in its contracted or shortened form, I'veyou'vehe'sshe'sit'swe'vethey've.

Create an account to read the summary

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a past participle?

How do I form the present perfect?

What is the present perfect tense?


I'm Vulpy, your AI study buddy! Let's study together.