We use the Present Perfect Tense to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now.
The exact time is not important. You can not use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc. We can use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet etc.
Structure Of Sentence
Positive: (Subject + has/ have + 3rd form of verb + Object)
- They have gone to school
Negative: (Subject + has/ have + not + 3rd from of verb + Object)
- They have not gone to school
Interrogative: (Has/ have + Subject + 3rd from of verb + Object + ?)
- Have they gone to school.
- Have you read the book yet?
- Nobody has ever climbed that mountain.
- A: Has there ever been a war in Pakistan?
- B: Yes, there has been a war in Pakistan.
More uses o present perfect tense
Change Over Time
We often use the Present Perfect Tense to talk about change that has happened over a period of time.
- You have grown since the last time I saw you.
- The government has become more interested in arts education.
- My English has really improved since I moved to Australia.
We often use the Present Perfect Tense to list the accomplishments of individuals and humanity. You cannot mention a specific time.
- Man has walked on the Moon.
- Our son has learned how to read.
An Uncompleted Action You Are Expecting
We often use the Present Perfect to say that an action which we expected has not happened. Using the Present Perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action to happen.
- James has not finished his homework yet.
- Susan hasn’t mastered Japanese, but she can communicate.
- Bill has still not arrived.
Multiple Actions at Different Times
We also use the Present Perfect to talk about several different actions which have occurred in the past at different times. Present Perfect suggests the process is not complete and more actions are possible.
- The army has attacked that city five times.
- I have had four quizzes and five tests so far this semester.
Time Expressions with Present Perfect
When we use the Present Perfect it means that something has happened at some point in our lives before now. Remember, the exact time the action happened is not important, but if we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience. We can do this with expressions such as: in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now etc.
- I went to Mexico last year.
- I went to Mexico in the calendar year before this one.
- I have been to Mexico in the last year.
- I have been to Mexico at least once at some point between 365 days ago and now.
“Last year” and “in the last year” are very different in meaning. “Last year” means the year before now, and it is considered a specific time which requires Simple Past. “In the last year” means from 365 days ago until now. It is not considered a specific time, so it requires Present Perfect.
Duration From the Past Until Now (Non-Continuous Verbs)
With Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Present Perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. “For five minutes,” “for two weeks,” and “since Tuesday” are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect.
- I have had a cold for two weeks.
- She has been in England for six months.