How To Use The Present Perfect Tense Correctly?

The present perfect tense generally represents an action which has been completed within a period of time that extends up to the present.

  • Have you seen him this morning?
  • Have you seen him today?
  • have never seen him before.
  • We have endured his tyranny for three years now.

Grammar notes

The present perfect is a present tense. So when you use the present perfect, the action cannot be placed at a point of time in the past. But a period of time extending up to the time of speaking can be mentioned. Examples are: for two hours, in the last two years, since 1990 etc. Adverbs like just, recently, as yet, ever, never, already, today, this morning etc., can also be used.

  • John has not yet returned the money he borrowed from me.
  • have just completed my book on the life of Abraham Lincoln.
  • They have already paid the dues.
  • They have lived here since 1975.
  • They have lived here for 12 years now.
  • I have been there this morning.
  • Has he gone to the post office already?

Common errors

  • have seen him yesterday. (Wrong)
  • saw him yesterday. (Right)
  • We have lived here till 2002. (Wrong)
  • We lived here till 2002. (Right)
  • ‘Where is John?’ ‘He has been to Mumbai.’ (Wrong)
  • ‘Where is John?’ ‘He has gone to Mumbai.’ (Right)

He has been to Mumbai means that sometime in the past he went to Mumbai and came back. So he knows Mumbai; he is not a stranger to Mumbai. He has gone to Mumbai means that he is still in Mumbai; hasn’t come back yet.

Note that the present perfect tense can be used in the subordinate clause only when the verb in the principal clause is either in the present or future tense – not in the past tense.

  • We will not begin the work until they have agreed to our conditions.
  • I will come back after I have had my lunch.
  • understand that you have resigned from the committee.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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