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Present Perfect Simple in English Grammar

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I wonder what’s started the fire.

The Present Perfect Simple verb form‎ is used to talk about a past event which has very strong meaning and connection with the present.

As you might imagine, it is sometimes difficult to define well as there are many exceptions to its use; different people will use it in different ways.

As you can see in these examples, the event happened a very short time ago in the past but the consequences of the event are being played out now:

The President has arrived. Quick! Everyone in your place to greet him!

Where’s Jane? – She has just left but if you run you can catch her.

Taking the example of a presidential bodyguard talking into their sleeves is a good idea: they are describing something in the recent past but it’s important because that is affecting what is happening now and dictating what is happening:

He’s left the airplane. He’s come down the steps. He’s greeted the Prime Minister. He’s…

And as each message comes across other security move to new positions and prepare themselves, etc.

Making the Present Perfect Simple

We make the present perfect simple by using have/has and the past participle:

have/has + {past participle}

I have worked hard today and now I’m tired.

She has found a good job and she will start work next Monday.

Note, we do not use this verb form along with an adverb‏‎ telling us when the event happened:

* {past perfect simple} + {adverb}

* I have argued with my boss yesterday.

* I have seen you last week.

NB The asterisk at the beginning of a sentence denotes a grammatically incorrect sentence.

Usage

We use the present perfect simple in several ways:

from the past to the present

A long term situation which started in the past and has continued till now, possibly carrying on into the future:

I have lived here all my life.

She has known me for five years

We can assume that the situation we’re talking about isn’t going to change in the near future.

recent events

These recent events strongly affect the present:

She has lost her purse – quickly, call the police.

I have found it!

This last example affects the present because everyone else can stop looking.

headlines

Headline news. This uses the present perfect simple because although it is reporting a past event, its use brings the event into the present:

A train has crashed, killing 40 people.

In a daring robbery 3 men have stolen the Mona Lisa.

general life experiences

These are general experiences in life. We often use the present perfect simple to talk about what have, or have not, done in life.

I have never seen such a fantastic sight.

Have you ever been to France?

She has visited India 3 times in the past year.

expected actions + yet

With actions we are expecting to happen we often use this with yet:

Have you seen Bill yet?

He hasn’t gone yet.

If the answer is, no, then this might surprise me or I will be relieved and give you more instructions.

Have you seen Bill yet?
No.
Good. I forgot to tell you to wish him Happy Birthday from me when you do.

He hasn’t gone yet.
Why not? He was supposed to leave hours ago!

With Adverbs of Time

We often use the present perfect with adverbs of time such as recently, lately and just to talk about something done very recently.

have/has + recently/just/lately + {past participle}

I have just seen Bill.

He has recently moved house.

Gone/Been

The verb go is used with two past participles, gone and been:

They have gone to Paris.

They have been to Paris.

These have two different meanings. In the first example they are not here now; in the second they went and then returned.

See Also

Present Perfect Continuous or Simple?‏‎

Present Perfect Simple or Past Simple?‏‎

Activity to practice the Present Perfect Simple: Truth or Lie

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