Learn Grammar: Present perfect

The grammar focus for Episode 5 Blue is the present perfect tense.

Present perfect is used for something that happened in the past, and which explains the present situation.

The present perfect of any verb is composed of two elements : the appropriate form of the auxiliary verb to have (present tense), plus the past participle of the main verb. The past participle of a regular verb is base+ed, e.g. played, arrived, looked.

Research indicates that there are 18 verbs which are most commonly used in the present perfect: be, have, open, get, go, do , make, see, come, think, say, give, take, become, ask, show, call, put.

There are a number of situations in which the present perfect tense can be used correctly:

  1. An action started in the past that continues in the present. I have worked at this school for five years.
  2. An action taken during a period of time that is not yet completed. I have travelled to Paris twice this year for business.
  3. An action completed in the very recent past identified with the use of ‘just’. I have just eaten lunch.
  4. An action not defined by the importance of time. She has seen that movie.

A common error made by learners is to overuse the present perfect tense when the past simple tense is a more appropriate choice. It is important for teachers to remind their students about using the past tense when describing a completed, finished action and to use the present perfect tense when providing a link between a past action or situation and a present one.

For example: She has returned the library books last week. (INCORRECT) She returned the library last week. (CORRECT)

Remember to watch the grammar support video on our Chasing Time English TV channel for additional instruction:

What are your experiences with the present perfect tense as a teacher or learner? We would love to hear from you.

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