The present perfect

Form of Present Perfect

  Positive Negative Question
I/,you/we/they I have spoken. I have not spoken. Have I spoken?
he/she/it He has spoken. He has not spoken. Has he spoken?

Introduction

The present perfect tense is common in English. It is used for many different functions.

This page will explain the most important uses of the present perfect tense.

1. Actions which started in the past and are still continuing

The present perfect is often used for an action that started at some time in the past and is still continuing now.

Often, the words for (with a length of time) and since (with a starting time) are used along with the present perfect.

He has lived in Canada for five years.
(He started living in Canada five years ago, and he’s still living there now.)

She has worked at the University since 1994.
(She started working at the University in 1994, and she’s still working there now.) In catalan we translate this sentence using The Present

Treballo a l’Universitat des del 1994

2. Actions which happened at some unknown time in the past

Sometimes, it’s important to say that something happened (or didn’t happen), but it’s not important (or not known) when it happened.

In this case, we can use the present perfect too. In this case, we often use the words already, yet, ever or never along with the present perfect.

These words usually go before the past participle in the sentence.

I’ve already seen that film. I don’t want to see it again.
(It doesn’t matter when I saw it.)

Have you ever been to Germany?
(It doesn’t matter when you went — I just want to know whether you have been there or not.)

3. Actions which happened in the past, but have an effect in the present

This use is a little more difficult than the other two. In this case, the action happened at some time in the past,

but the effect of the action is still important now.

It’s easiest to understand this use if we compare present perfect sentences with simple past sentences.

Tense Sentence Meaning
Present perfect I’ve lost my keys. I don’t have the keys. They are still missing.
Simple past I lost my keys yesterday. I didn’t have them yesterday, but maybe today I found them.
Present perfect She’s broken her arm. The arm is still injured.
Simple past She broke her arm. The arm is probably OK now.

Particles: never, ever, just, already, yet, since, for

These expressions can be used with the Present Perfect:

NEVER

He has never played computer games. No ha jugat mai a jocs d’ordinador
We put never before the participle.

EVER?

Have you ever visited Rome? Has visitat alguna vegada Roma?
Ever means ‘at any time in the past’.

We put ever before the participle.

EVER

It is the best film I have ever seen. És la millor pel.lícula que mai he vist

We use ever with superlatives.

We put ever before the participle.

(not) EVER

He hasn’t ever walked. = He has never walked.

(not ever) means ‘never’. Never is more usual than not ever.

YET (?)

Have you made your bed yet? Ja t’has fet el llit?
We put yet at the end of the sentence.
(not) YET

She hasn’t had her baby yet. Encara no ha tingut el bebé
We put yet at the end of the sentence.
ALREADY

She has already had her baby. Ella ja ha tingut el bebé
We put already before the participle.

JUST

They have just married. Acaben de casar-se
Just means ‘very recently’.

We put just before the participle.
FOR (+ a period of time)

I haven’t seen the dentist for one year.
No he vist en dentista des de fa un any
We use for with a period of time.

Other examples: or one month, for two hours, for three years, for a long time, for a while

SINCE(+ a particular moment)

I haven’t ridden my bicycle since last month.
No he anat en bici des del mes passat.)
We use since with a particular moment. This moment indicates when the action started.

Other examples: since 1997, since yesterday, since three o’clock, since my birthday, since I was a child

To practice: exercise onetwothree four five six seven

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