Present Perfect Tense

English Grammar Rules

The Present Perfect Tense is formed using the following structure:

Affirmative: Subject + Have / Has + Past Participle

Negative: Subject + Haven't / Hasn't + Past Participle

Question: Have / Has + Subject + Past Participle

Affirmative Sentences

Subject Have Past
Rest of the Sentence
I have studied for the exam.
You have bought a new computer.
He has eaten my chocolate.
She has written an e-mail.
It has been cold this month.
We have won the championship.
You have tried to learn a lot.
They have forgotten my birthday.


The contracted form of the perfect tense is quite common:

Have Contraction Examples
I have I've I've spent all my money.
You have You've You've worn that dress before.
He has He's He's slept all morning.
She has She's She's lost her purse.
It has It's It's fallen off the wall.
We have We've We've chosen you for the job.
You have You've You've begun to annoy me.
They have They've They've drunk too much.

We use contractions a lot when we are speaking.

Negative Sentences

The contraction of the perfect tense in negative form is:
Have not = Haven't
Has not = Hasn't

Subject Have Past
Rest of the Sentence
I haven't studied for the exam.
You haven't bought a new computer.
He hasn't eaten my chocolate.
She hasn't written an e-mail.
It hasn't been cold this month.
We haven't won the championship.
You haven't tried to learn a lot.
They haven't forgotten my birthday.


Have Subject Past
Rest of the Sentence
Have I been chosen for the team?
Have you bought a new car?
Has he eaten my sandwich?
Has she written the letter?
Has it started on time?
Have we won a trophy?
Have you kept my secret?
Have they driven there?

When do we use the Present Perfect Tense?

1. Unspecified point in the past

  • I have been to Spain three times.
    (At some unspecified time in the past, I went to Spain).

Compare with the simple past:

  • I went to Spain three times in 2005.
    (specified time in the past - the year 2005)

2. An action that occurred in the past, but has a result in the present (now)

  • We can't find our luggage. Have you seen it?
    (The luggage was lost in the past, do you know where it is now?)

3. Talking about general experiences (ever, never)

It usually refers to an event happening at some moment in your life.

  • Has she ever tried Chilean wine before? (in her life)
  • I've never eaten monkey brains before. (in my life)

4. Events that recently occurred (just)

  • Do you want to go to a restaurant with me?
    No, thanks. I've just eaten lunch. (I recently ate lunch.)

5. Events that have occurred up to now (yet)

  • Are Carlos and Rodrigo here? No, they haven't arrived yet. (they're still not here now)

6. Events that occurred before you expected (already)

  • I've already graduated from University. (I expected to graduate at a later date.)

7. Events that began in the past and haven't changed (for, since)

  • Mike has worked at Woodward for 3 years.
    (Mike started working at Woodward 3 years ago and he still works there now.)
  • Julie has worked at Woodward since September last year.
    (Julie began working at Woodward in September of last year, and that hasn't changed - she still works here now.)

Next activity

Check out our pages about Past Participles and the Pronunciation of ED.

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Last Updated: 02 December 2014
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