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Present Perfect Tense: Definition, Structure, and Usage

The present perfect tense shows an action that started in the past and continues into the present or an action that was completed at an unknown time in the past and has relevance or consequences in the present.

For example:

  • She has taken his mother’s advice to enroll in summer school. 
  • I have changed the door lock for security reasons. 

How Do You Form the Present Perfect Tense?

The present perfect tense describes actions completed in the past that have relevance in the present. The perfect present tense can also be used to describe habitual or repeated actions and one-time events.

The Present Perfect Tense Formula

To use the present perfect tense, combine the correct form of the verb “to have” with the past participle of the main verb.

A past participle is a verb form that is often (but not always) formed by adding “-ed” to the base verb. It is used to form perfect verb tenses.

The formula to create the present perfect tense is:

  • Subject + have/has + past participle of the verb

For example:

  • I have taken a wrong turn and am now lost. 
  • The committee has decided to postpone the school fair. 

The Present Perfect Tense Question Formula

The formula to create the interrogative form of the present perfect tense is:

  • Have/has + subject + past participle

For example:

  • Have you arrived at the theater yet?
  • Has the cat eaten this morning?

The Present Perfect Tense Negative Formula

The formula to create the negative form of the present perfect tense is:

  • Have/has + negative + past participle

For example:

  • I have not eaten all day.  
  • The committee has not met in over a month. 

What Are the Uses of the Present Perfect Tense?

There are specific scenarios where the present perfect tense is particularly useful. Here are some situations where this tense helps explain actions that started in the past and continue into, or have relevance in, the present: 

  1. Use the present perfect tense with adverbs or phrases that tell when or how often an action occurred.

For example:

  • I have already gone to the store.
  • I have just gone to the store.
  • I have never gone to the store.
  1. Use the present perfect tense to describe an event that has happened multiple times or actions that have a connection to the present, whether they’re ongoing or not.

For example:

  • I have been to New York three times.
  • She has read that book five times.
  1. Use the present perfect tense to describe past experiences or conditions that continue to be relevant or true in the present.

For example:

  • I have known her for years.
  • They have had a lot of fun.
  1. Use the present perfect tense to talk about changes or developments that have occurred over a longer period.

For example: 

  • Your puppy has grown a lot since December!
  1. Use the present perfect tense to describe actions that started in the past and are expected to be finished, whether they are in the affirmative or negative form.

For example: 

  • I haven’t picked up the groceries my mother asked me to.
  • I have started the project but haven’t finished it yet.