We use the Present Perfect to talk about past actions that are important now.
The Present Perfect is a present tense. We do not use it to talk about the past.
We form the Present Perfect using the verb have and the past participle form of the verb (sometimes called the third form).
The present perfect tense can be difficult to understand.
We should remember that it is a present tense, it’s not about the past.
It does, however, have a connection to the past.
We use the present perfect when the time period we are talking about has not finished.
This contrasts with Past Simple, when the time period has finished.
How do we know if the time period has finished?
1. If we use a past time word such as yesterday or last week, this is a finished time period. We never use Present Perfect with these words.
I have seen a film yesterday. WRONG!
I saw a film yesterday. CORRECT
2. If we are already talking about the past, we can use the past simple without a past time word.
‘What did you do last week?’
I went to Oxford. CORRECT
I’ve been to Oxford WRONG (Why? Because we are talking about the past, a finished time period i.e. last week.)
3. If we are not talking about the past, then we often need to use Present Perfect.
‘Do you want to watch Titanic?’
‘No, thanks, I’ve seen it.’ CORRECT
‘No thanks, I saw it.’ WRONG
Words we often use with Present Perfect.
– ever, never, just, (not)yet, already, so far, until now
A common mistake students make is to use the Present Perfect with a past time expression. – For example ‘I have seen that film last week.’ – This is wrong!
|I have seen ‘Titanic’.||I haven’t seen ‘Titanic’.||Have I seen ‘Titanic’?|
|You have written a letter.||You haven’t written a letter.||Have you written a letter?|
|He has been to Sapin.||He hasn’t been to Spain.||Has he been to Sapin?|
|She has done her homework.||She hasn’t done her homework.||Has she done her homework?|
|It has rained a lot today.||It hasn’t rained a lot today.||Has it rained a lot today?|
|We have enjoyed ourselves.||We haven’t enjoyed ourselves.||Have we enjoyed ourselves?|
|They have walked very far.||They haven’t walked very far.||Have they walked very far?|