What is the present perfect simple?
The present perfect simple is one of the English verb tenses.
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Use & examples
The present perfect simple tense links the past to the present and we use it to describe:
(1) Unfinished situations or periods of time
It describes actions or situations (single or repeated) that started in the past and continue to the present (and possibly into the future).
- I've lived in Munich for two years. (I still live in Munich NOW.)
- We've gone to the gym (once/three times) this week. (This week is NOT finished.)
(3) Recently finished situations
It can also describe actions that were finished recently (a short time ago), and can be emphasised with 'just', 'already'.
- He's (just) arrived at work.
- I've (already) cleaned the house.
How do you write and pronounce the present perfect simple?
Form: Key points
- Use the auxiliary verb 'have' (have/has) + main verb (Past participle).
- To form the past participle of main verbs, add 'ed' to the base form of the verb, which is the infinitive without 'to'.
Here are examples of the affirmative (positive) form, negative form and question form using the verb 'live'.
It is also possible to contract subject pronouns with auxiliary verb + 'not'
- I've not
- He's/She's/It's not
- Yes, I have. / No, I haven't.
- Yes, you have. / No, you haven't.
Other questions forms
- How long...?
(unfinished situations - used with for and since)
How long have you lived in Germany? For 2 years.
- Have you (ever)...?
Have you (ever) been to Africa? No, I haven't.
We commonly use contractions (e.g. 'I've met friends' or 'He hasn't worked today') for the present perfect simple tense, especially when speaking English.
The present perfect simple with 'ed' has three different pronunciation sounds.
- /t/ (e.g. worked, helped) - when 'ed' comes after an unvoiced consonant sound.
- /d/ (e.g. stayed, lived) - when 'ed' comes after a voiced consonant or a vowel sound.
- /ɪd/ (e.g. started, decided) - when 'ed' comes after the sounds /t/ and /d/.
For the present perfect simple, we have extra information about:
- spelling exceptions for verbs and
- time expressions that you can use.
Spelling exceptions for verbs
The past participle for regular verbs is the same as the past tense form and ends with 'ed'.
Sometimes we need to remove a letter, and other times we need to add another letter. Here are the exceptions:
1) One 'e' at the end of a verb
Add 'd' at the end of the base form.
[live] I've lived in Germany.
[save] I've saved money for a new car.
2) Verb ends with consonant + one stressed vowel + one consonant
Double the final consonant.
[stop] I've stopped the car.
* Verbs ending with an unstressed vowel
These follow the normal rules, and the last consonant is not doubled.
[develop] They've developed a new idea at the company.
3) Verb ends in 'l' (British English)
Double the final consonant before -ed'.
[travel] I've travelled with friends.
4) Verb ends with 'ic'
Add 'k' before -ed'.
[panic] He's panicked about the exam.
5) Irregular verbs
There are many irregular verbs which don't follow the rules and you just need to remember them!
[see] He's seen this film.
Time expressions used with present perfect simple
Here are time markers that can be used with the present perfect simple.
This gives a period of time.
I've worked at this company for two years.
This gives a starting point.
I've had this car since 2015.
This shows that something finished a short time ago.
We've just eaten lunch.
This shows that something was finished earlier than expected.
She's already gone home.
5) this week / month / year / today
These expressions can be used for periods of time that are not finished.
He hasn't phoned his parents this month.
This is used for negatives and questions about situations that were expected to happen.
Have you cooked dinner yet?
Quiz 1: Unfinished situations or periods of time
My first year at university
Type the verbs in the present perfect simple tense and use the affirmative, negative or question form.
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- I (have studied, 've studied)[study] at university in Paris since last year.
- They (haven't given, have not given, 've not given)[give] any feedback for our assignments yet.
- (Have) you (finished)[finish] your course at college? No, I ('ve not, haven't, have not).
- My parents (haven't visited, have not visited, 've not visited)[visit] me for three months.
- I ('ve read, have read)[read] so many books this year.
- (Has) the university (explained)[explain] the targets for next year? No, it (hasn't, has not).
- My friend (hasn't prepared, has not prepared, 's not prepared)[prepare] for the exam tomorrow.
- (Has) he (learned, learnt)[learn] anything? No, he (hasn't, 's not, has not).
- I (have used, 've used)[use] the gym on the university campus every week.
- (Have) you and your classmates already (found)[find] the best cafes and pubs in Paris. Yes, we (have)!