We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Present Perfect?

Dan Harkins
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The first verb tenses that young minds learn are in the definite present, past and future. Beyond these distinctions, however, are the perfect forms of these verb constructions: present perfect, past perfect and future perfect. In the present perfect tense, something "has been happening" at an unspecified time in the past, and it still may be happening in the present. In English, this tense always combines "has been" or "have been" with a verb in the present participle, usually ending in "-ing." A few simple examples illustrate the proper grammar: "I have been speaking to the man about our lack of communication," or, "They have been giving you ample time to learn about verb tenses."

When used to negate something in the past, a few alterations are made. "Few have ever questioned her authority," qualitatively changes the standard present perfect construction. The most commonly used negation device in this tense is the addition of the word "not," as in, "I have not studied enough to know verb tenses by heart."

Questions in the present perfect are formed in a different way, too. The "has" or "had" and verb can be separated in a question by a few words used to qualify the sentence. It can be the object, such as, "Has she gone to the store yet?" or "Have you done your homework?" It can also be a word like "there," or even "there ever, as in, "Have there ever been fights at work about proper grammar?"

Present perfect tense has some prohibitions as well. It cannot be used with words that identify a timeframe or date. That would erase the unspecified nature of the tense. It would simply not sound right: "Last year, I had seen that movie four times." Instead, the past tense would suffice: "Last year, I saw that movie four times."

The cornerstone to understanding the use of present perfect is knowing when the idea of "unspecified time" will be needed. It will differ from the other tenses in specific ways. By contrast, past perfect tense reflects something that has definitely occurred in the past but no longer occurs in the present, like, "I had been hoping for a win." With the future perfect tense, something is being described that "will have" happened by a destined time in the future. An example of this tense is, "When I finally understand present perfect tense, I will have studied for hours."

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Dan Harkins
By Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his journalism degree, he spent more than two decades honing his craft as a writer and editor for various publications. Dan’s debut novel showcases his storytelling skills and unique perspective by drawing readers into the story’s captivating narrative.
Discussion Comments
By Bertie68 — On Sep 02, 2011

Before I started teaching my adult ESL students the present perfect tense, I had to go over the rules myself. When you are speaking or writing your first language, it's funny, you just know the words to use. But when you try to teach it, you're at a loss.

I used to use all sorts of methods to get them to understand. I would use charts and line diagrams that showed the present, past and perfect.

Then I would walk through the different times as I spoke sentences, like - I'm in the past now and did something and then walked into the present, still doing this action. After doing everything, but "stand on my head," they would finally get it.

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins, a former military professional, brings his diverse life experiences to his writing. After earning his...
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.