Updated: Oct 7, 2021
Present Perfect Tense is difficult for many students. Do you have difficulty?
Present Perfect tense is one of the most important tenses in English. It combines the PAST with the PRESENT. Therefore many students are unsure when to use Present Perfect Tense and when to use Past Simple Tense.
Easily learn how and when to use Present Perfect Tense in sentences and English conversation in the video below.
Present Perfect is actually used in different ways.
This lesson will teach you the 3 main ways we use Present Perfect which covers 90% of usage situations. Even though it is used in different ways, the base concept is the same.
Present Perfect tense is used to talk about unfinished time (today, this week, this month etc); and unfinished actions (where the time is unspecified) that have a result in the present.
Past Simple is used to talk about finished time (yesterday, last week, last month, etc.), and finished actions.
In just 30 MINUTES you can master Present Perfect Tense!! Build your confidence and improve your English. EASY PRESENT PERFECT - You can do it!!
In the lesson you will learn how to make the Present Perfect Tense in positive, negative and question forms:
Positive Form: Subject + have/has + Past Participle
Negative Form: Subject + have/has + NOT + Past Participle
Question Form: Have + Subject + Past Participle
Then, we will learn HOW and WHEN to use the Present Perfect in conversation using the 3 main ways of using Present Perfect Tense. You can test your knowledge in a quiz and finally I wrap up the lesson with a short Summary.
Please get a pen and a notebook and take notes while you watch. Pause the video, go back, watch again if necessary until you understand.
Have fun and happy studying!
You can find a list of VOCABULARY for the lesson & a TRANSCRIPT below.
Take it easy,
The Personal English Trainer
to check (something) out
to pay attention (to something)
to open a business
Hey there. Welcome back to the Channel. My name is Chris and I am The Personal English Trainer. Today, I'm very excited because we have a very special lesson for you today. It's a very important lesson.
And this is a lesson which has helped many students make a big jump from the simple tenses, present...present simple, past simple, to using present perfect, which is sometimes confusing for students and they have difficulty. Okay. In only 20 minutes or 30 minutes you will have a much better understanding, a clearer understanding in your head about how to use present perfect and when we should use present perfect.
Right. Let's get started. Check this out. Take a look at this. Have you ever been to Hawaii?
Yes, I have been to Hawaii two years ago. What do you think? Is this right, or is this wrong? Think about it for a moment. Get your pen, get your notebook, let's get ready to study. Roll that intro!
Okay. Welcome back. Right. I have been to Hawaii two years ago. It is wrong! But why? Why is it wrong? How do we fix it? Let's take a look. Take a look on the board. Okay, so, yes I have been to Hawaii two years ago. We can fix it just by doing this. Cross that out. Full stop.
Yes, I have been to Hawaii. It is correct! You can stop there. That's all you need to do. Have you ever been to Hawaii? Yes, I have been to Hawaii. Stop. That's perfect. Here. You have present perfect tense. Now, another way to fix it is like this. Okay, so two years ago is finished time. It's ah 2019, 2019. It's finished time. We cannot use present perfect with finished time, we can't. But if we change the verb tense to past simple and you put I went to Hawaii two years ago. It is correct. That's great. It's an acceptable answer to this question. Have you ever been to Hawaii? Yes.
I went to Hawaii two years ago. That's okay. But technically it's answering a different question. It's answering the question, when when did you go to Hawaii? Or another place, you can change the name. When did you go to Hawaii? I went to Hawaii. I went to Hawaii two years ago.
Okay. Now pay attention here because this is the key point of the whole lesson. When we use past simple, we are talking about finished time.
What is finished time? Two years ago yesterday, last week, last month. And we're talking about finished actions.
When we use present perfect, I like to say we're talking about unfinished time and unfinished actions.
Okay. Now, technically, present perfect is to talk about an action in the past at an unspecified time and there is an effect or result in the present. Okay. But when you're making a sentence and you're trying to decide, do I use past simple, or do I use present perfect, all you need to think is...is this this finished time and finished action? Or is this unfinished time an unfinished action? And then you can make the sentence more smoothly.
Okay, now we need to explore this a little bit more. Let's have a look at the goal for today's lesson and the lesson plan. Our goal is to use present perfect smoothly in conversation. So I'm gonna explain the grammar side and I'm gonna show you how to use it. The target level for the lesson is pre-intermediate students, but also intermediate students if you're still having some trouble with present perfect, and even elementary students. You can probably understand 50, 60, 70% of the lesson. Okay, I'm going to show you how to make the present perfect first, and then I'm going to explain the three main ways we use present perfect every day. There are actually four or five ways, but these are the three main ways. And we will do a short quiz just to test if you've been watching and paying attention and we'll have a wrap up with some summary.
Okay, let's have a look at number one. How do we make the present perfect? Okay, take a look at the board. So in the positive case for positive sentence, we have the subject I, you we, they + have + past participle. Now what is past participle? Well, it's just third verb form.
For example, live, lived, lived. This is the past participle. For irregular verb, eat, ate, eaten. Eaten is past participle, and then you have the rest of the sentence. Okay, so let's look at one example. As you already know, I subject I, bring down the have, the past participle been, and the rest of the sentence, to Hawaii. Okay, I have been to Hawaii. If we use he or she or it as subject, we have has, we use past participle + rest of the sentence.
For example, she, bring down has been to Hawaii. Okay, so that's positive sentences. Let's have a look at the negative sentence. So we have negative sentence I, you, we or they is our subject + have + NOT + the past participle + the rest of the sentence.
So for example, we will get I have not...creates haven't, therefore I haven't been to Hawaii. If he or she or it is our subject, it's the same + has + NOT + past participle. The has and the not becomes hasn't, so example, she hasn't been to Hawaii. I haven't seen the new Spiderman movie. She hasn't tried the new restaurant. I haven't met our new boss. She hasn't finished her work yet.
Okay, now let's look at the question form. So with our subject I, you, we or they, we use have + the subject + past participle. For example, our original first question, have you been to Hawaii? Okay. Have you been to Hawaii? Have you tried bungee jumping?
Have you ever ridden an elephant? Have you met the new staff member? Have you finished your book? Okay. If the subject is he or she or it we use has + the past participle, for example, has he been to Hawaii?
Okay. So that's the form. Let's look at how we use the present perfect. Let's have a look at part two.
So we use present perfect in three main ways, and you must understand how to use each way. Each way is a little different, but it's the same idea or concept about unfinished time and actions. So we use present perfect to talk about life experience, our experiences. We use present perfect to talk about an unfinished action. That is the action which started in the past and continued until now. And we use unfinished...present perfect to talk about unfinished time.
So unfinished time is, for example, today or this week, or this month. Finished time is last year and last month, and we would use past. Okay, now let's focus on the first one, life experience. So life experience is talking about from when you were born until now. So you are not dead because you are watching this video, which means your life is not finished.
Unfinished time because your life is not finished. When we talk about our life experiences, we use present perfect if the time is not specified. So, for example, let's look at our example. Have you ever have you ever been to Hawaii? Okay.
So the answer would be yes, I have being to Hawaii or no, I haven't been to Hawaii. Okay. Now we may often use a short answer, in the short answer just have you ever been to Hawaii? Yes, I have. Just yes I have or no I haven't.
Okay. But that's a very short conversation. So in conversation, we usually ask follow up questions. Now, when we make a follow up question, for example, for the yes answer. Have you ever been to Hawaii? Yes, I have.
We're going to ask something like, when, we're going to ask when. When did you go to Hawaii?
So, Chris, have you ever been to Hawaii? Yes, I have. When did you go to Hawaii? Oh, I went to Hawaii last year. So note the answer.
I went to...past simple...Hawaii last year. Last year finished time, finished action. I went to Hawaii last year. Next question, how long?
How long did you stay there? Oh, I stayed there for five days.
And what did you do?
What did you do there? Again, past simple, I relaxed on the beach and I went swimming. I tried surfing and I went shopping. Sounds good. Note, the answers are all past simple. I tried surfing. I went shopping. I relaxed on the beach all past simple. And one more question. Who...who did you go to...H for Hawaii?
Who did you go to Hawaii with? Oh, I went to Hawaii with my friend. Okay, so this is the key point. The first question, have you ever been to Hawaii is present perfect grammar because it's asking about your lifetime and your lifetime is not finished. The follow up questions are all the follow up questions are all past simple.
When did you? How long did you? What did you? Who did you? We could also use 'be' verb. How was the weather? How was your trip? How was your flight? But they're all past simple because these questions are not about your lifetime. They're just about one point in your life. This small finished point here. These questions are about your trip to Hawaii. Therefore, we use past simple.
The first question, have you ever been to Hawaii is about your unfinished lifetime? And that is one of the key points you have to remember. Unfinished. Finished. Okay, right, we could try something more similar, more recent, for example, have you seen...have you seen the new Spiderman movie? Or have you seen...have you tried the new Italian restaurant? Okay, same thing, the next... Yes, I have.
Oh, when did you see the new Spiderman movie? I saw it last week. Where did you see the movie? Oh, I watched it at the cinema in Ginza.
Oh, really? And who did you go to the movie theater with? I went there by myself.
How was the movie? It was great. All past simple.
First question. Have you seen the new Spiderman movie? Because the time is unspecified and sometime in my lifetime, of course, maybe near now. Have you tried the new Italian restaurant? In my lifetime, of course, probably near to now.
But the follow up questions are all past simple and that's very common. So when you make conversation, you often start with a present perfect question. Have you been to Hawaii? Have you seen the new movie? Have you tried the new restaurant?
Have you met the new boss? The follow up questions will probably be past simple.
Okay, let's move on to the second point. Take a look at the timeline. This is about unfinished actions.
So an action started in the past and it continued until now. Here we have now, the action started until now. This is the easiest way we use present perfect. Okay, let's have a look at some examples.
I have lived in Tokyo for 16 years. So here we have present perfect and we always have...we always have for or since. I have lived in Tokyo for 16 years. I have lived in Tokyo since 2005. Next one, I have worked at my company for two years. Here we have present perfect and here we have the time period that it's measuring. The third one, I have had my car for one year. Again, present perfect here and the time of ownership here. Now some students are a little confused because we have, have had. But if you think about it, we say I live in Tokyo. Therefore present perfect, have lived.
I work at my company, present perfect have worked. I have a car therefore present perfect. I have had a car.
I could say, I own a car. I own...o w n. I own a car. Therefore, I have owned my car for one year.
Okay. Now, if we make the question, the question is gonna be, how long have you something, something, something. How long have you? And it's always that question. It never changes. It's always how long have you done something? The answer is always I have something for this many years.
Okay, let's have a look at a conversation now. So we're still talking about unfinished actions. And here is a conversation.
Yuko and Chris, that's me, are having a conversation.
Yuko said, Chris, where do you live?
I live in Tokyo.
Oh, how long have you lived in Tokyo? So this is present perfect. How long have you lived in Tokyo? Unfinished action.
My answer. I have lived in Tokyo for 16 years. So present perfect...present perfect.
Yuko said, wow, that is a long time. Where did you live before Tokyo?
So this one is past simple. Past simple. And I said, I lived in Kyoto.
So Kyoto and is finished action. Living in Kyoto is a finished action. It's here. Now I'm living in Tokyo from the past until now. From 2005 until now. Before that, I lived in Kyoto for two years.
So we have 16 years and we have two years.
This is an unfinished action. This is a finished action because it's finished. We must...Yuko used present..past simple. She said, where did you live before?
My answer. I lived in Kyoto because it's finished action at a finished time. Then Yuko wanted to know, how long. How long did you live in Kyoto? So again, past simple for finished action.
Answer. I lived in Kyoto for two years.
Okay, so this is a very important point here. For the unfinished action, which is living in Tokyo. We must use present perfect. How long have you lived? I have lived...
For the finished action, living in Kyoto. We must use past simple. Where did you live before? I lived in Kyoto. How long did you live there?
I lived in Kyoto for two years. Okay. Finished. Not finished.
Okay, let's move on to the third way we use present perfect. So the third way we use present perfect is to talk about unfinished time. And what is unfinished time. Unfinished time is today, this week, this month, this year.
If we talk about yesterday, yesterday is finished time. If we talk about last week, last month, last year, that is finished time. When we use unfinished time, we should use present perfect. For example, I have had three meetings today. That means today is not finished. Maybe it's lunch time. Maybe it's 2pm maybe it's 4p.m. But today is not finished. There could be more meetings.
Now yesterday is finished time. If it's finished time, we should use past simple. Therefore, I had six meetings yesterday. Okay, so that is the difference. When we talk about finished time, use the past simple.
When we talk about unfinished time like today or this month, use present perfect. Okay, now let's have a look at how we make the question. This type of present perfect is often asking about how many times, how many meetings, how many cups of coffee, how many business trips, how many cans of beer or glasses of wine?
So let's have a look at the question. How many something present perfect have you and the verb past participle? And then you must have the unfinished time period. So, for example, how many meetings have you had today?
How many meetings have you had today?
Oh, I have had three meetings today.
Oh, you're very busy.
Yes, but yesterday I was even busier.
Really? How many...in this case meetings...now, yesterday is finished so the grammar is different. How many meetings did you have yesterday?
Here's our time. Finished time. Here's our verb. Past simple verb.
How many meetings did you have yesterday? I had six meetings yesterday. Okay, some other examples. How many cups of coffee have you drunk today? Drink. Drank. Drunk. How many cups of coffee have you drunk today? Ah, I have drunk two cups of coffee today.
How many cups of coffee did you drink yesterday? Oh, I drank one cup of coffee yesterday. Or I didn't drink any coffee yesterday because there was no coffee left. If you have a look at the timeline, you can see, this is May, this is June, this is July. And now it is June 15. June 15. That means June is not finished, it's unfinished. Therefore, if we ask about June, we would use present perfect, this month for example.
How many? How many business trips have you taken this month? How many business trips have you taken this month?
Oh, I have taken one business trip this month. But last month I was very busy.
Really? How many business trips did you take last month? Okay, so last month is May. May is finished, May is finished. June is not finished. How many business trips did you take last month?
I took four business trips last month. Okay, so unfinished time, this month, this year, we have to use present perfect. Finished time, we would use past simple.
So let's move on to part three of today's lesson. Let's have a look at a short quiz just to see if you learned everything today, that you were paying attention. If you can't get the answers, don't worry about it, then go back and watch the video again and take a few notes and reread your notes. Okay.
Okay, so number one. So some of these are correct, some of them are wrong.
Number one says I have been to Hawaii last year. This is an easy one. Is it right, or is it wrong? Think about it just for a moment. Okay, it is wrong because last year is finished time. Therefore, we should use past simple. So, let's make it correct, we will change it to, I went to Hawaii last year.
Okay, number two, have you ever tried bungee jumping? I never want to try bungee jumping. Skydiving yeah but bungy jumping no. So have you ever tried bungee jumping? Is that correct, or is it wrong? Think about it. It is okay. It's okay. This is asking about your lifetime, anytime in your lifetime.
Number three, I have drunk three cups of coffee yesterday. I have drunk three cups of coffee yesterday. Right or wrong? What do you think? It is...it is wrong. Why? Yesterday is finished, finished time, so it should be past simple. I drank three cups of coffee yesterday.
Okay, number four, how many times did you drink beer this month? How about you? How many times did you drink beer this month? Is that right, or is that wrong? Have a...have a think about it.
Okay. We've got past simple grammar, but we've got this month. We've got unfinished time. Unfinished time should be present perfect grammar. Therefore this is wrong. Let's change it. How many times have you drunk drink, drank drunk beer this month.
Okay, number five, I have worked at my company since last year. What do you think right or wrong? Okay, this one is correct. I have worked at my company since last year. Now last year, of course, is finished time. But this is since last year. So that means from here....so now it's 2021.
Last year is 2020. We don't know when, but since last year, from last year until now, that's unfinished time period. So this is correct. Now, I have worked in my company since 2020. Or I have worked at my company for one year. They're all okay.
Number six, how long have you stayed in Hawaii last month? Okay, this should be easy by now. You've got present perfect grammar have stayed. We've got last month. Last month is finished time...finished time should be past simple. Therefore, how long did you stay in Hawaii last month? Oh, I stayed there for two days. Okay, before we do a summary to close today's lesson, let's look at one more conversation, which is using all three main ways of using Present Perfect in one conversation.
Yuko asked me, Chris, have you tried the new Sushi restaurant?
Yes, I said I have been there three times. So this is using present perfect to talk about life experience now, of course, that experience is very close to now.
I said I went there once last month and I have been there twice this month. Twice means two times. So here we have unfinished time and we have present perfect. Last month is finished time and we have past simple.
Okay, Yuko said, is it good?
Yeah, it's great! So it's very popular.
When did it open? Open means start business. It opened in April, so it has been open for two months. Subject it. Has been, present perfect, for two months. This is an unfinished action. An action started until now.
So here we have one. We have two. We have three different ways of using present perfect in the one conversation. Now, it won't always be like that, but it's not uncommon to use present perfect in one or two ways in a conversation.
Okay, so let's wrap up today's lesson with a quick summary just to make sure you've got everything clear in your head. We use past simple to talk about finished time and finished actions. We use present perfect to talk about unfinished time or unspecified time, and unfinished actions. We looked at three main where we use present perfect. That is, 80% or 90% of the ways we use present perfect. We had life experience and the second way was an unfinished action, and the third way was to talk about unfinished time.
If you take a look at the timelines for each one, you can see they are the same. We have your life starts when you are born and it continues until now.
We start working at our company. We start living in Tokyo. We start learning to play the guitar and it continued until now.
And for unfinished time. Let's imagine we're talking about today. Today started at midnight and it continued until now, 1pm. Half the day is gone, but it's not finished. Yesterday is finished. Today is not finished. So you can see the concept is the same, it's always unfinished.
Now, please, if you're still a little bit unclear, watch the video again. If you have questions, you can ask me. For homework. I would like you to try to write one example of each way of using the present perfect. And then please also share this video with your friends, with your classmates, with family members to help them on their language journey also. Everybody needs a little help.
Thank you. Have a great day. Take it easy. I'll catch you in the next video.
See you later.