Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Tense

You use the present perfect tense to express completed experiences, accomplishments, and changes that have occurred before the present moment. You also use this tense to express uncompleted actions that you expect to finish or to describe multiple actions that occurred at different times.

  • She has called the house repeatedly.
  • Our group has grown from just a few members to over 15,000.
  • I have been to France and Spain.
  • They haven’t mowed their lawn yet.

In order to use the present perfect tense correctly, you must refer to actions or states of being that have taken place over an indefinite period of time, not one time events. For a specific or one-time event occurring in the past, you use the simple past tense.

For instance, if you say, “I have been on a cruise ship,” the present perfect tense, you simply mean that you have had this experience. Contrast that statement with this one in the simple past: “I went on a cruise to the Bahamas in February, 2002.”

Forming the Present Perfect Tense

You form the present perfect tense by combining the correct form of present tense verb “to have” with the past tense form of the root verb.

  • You have tried to reason with him.
  • Doctors have found a cure for many diseases.
  • I have learned to keep my mouth shut.

Making the Present Perfect Tense Negative

In order to make the present perfect tense negative, you need to negate the auxiliary verb “to have.”

  • I haven’t heard from my brother lately.
  • They have not climbed the tree to get that kite down yet.
  • She hasn’t grown much in the last year.

Phrasing the Present Perfect Tense as a Question

To phrase the present perfect tense as a question, begin with the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb “to have,” followed by the subject and past tense of the root verb. Interrogatives can also begin with adverbs expressing time or place.

  • Haven’t you learned enough Mandarin to get by?
  • When have you met him before?
  • Haven’t we heard that story a million times?

Learn more about verb tenses.