Present Perfect

Present perfect is a tense that we use very often when we are speaking.


We create affirmative present perfect sentences by have/has + past participle.

  • e.g. have seen
  • e.g. have gone
  • e.g. have got
We create negative present perfect sentences by have/has + not + past participle.
  • e.g. have not seen
  • e.g. have not gone
  • e.g. have not got
We create present perfect questions by have/has + subject + past participle.
  • e.g. have you  seen?
  • e.g. have you gone?
  • e.g. have you got?

There are a couple different ways we use present perfect:

  1. We use it when something started in the past and continues until now. e.g. I have worked at Ford since 1950.
  2. It can also be used to talk about something that finished at non-specific time in the past. e.g. I have seen Avatar before.

Errors to avoid

These two ways often get mixed up. Sometimes people use present perfect when they should use simple past.
  • e.g. I have seen Titanic last night.  (incorrect)
  • The above example is wrong because  it has a time reference in a present perfect sentence.
  • e.g. I have seen Titanic. (correct)
  • The above is correct because it does not specify the time.
A common mistake that French people make is translating French into English. What happens is passe compose is translated into present perfect. This is an incorrect translation and causes confusion. Passe compose is a past tense, but present perfect is not. This is where the confusion comes from.
  • e.g. J’ai vu un film hier. Which translates into > I have seen a film yesterday.
Some questions that you will hear often using present perfect are:
  • How have you been?
  • What have you been up to lately?

Using Since and For

  • Since + start time
    • e.g. I have worked for CIDA since 2007.
  • For + duration of time
    • e.g. I have worked for CIDA for five years.
In terms of the PSC Language tests, present perfect can present some problems if you are not comfortable with it. For the oral test, you have you to make sure that listen carefully to what the evaluator is asking, and be sure to reply in the same grammar tense.
For some exercises check out

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Iain Robson

A teacher, a learner, and all round nice guy. I love talking to people through social media, and in real life. Feel free to connect with me on twitter

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