1 FORM [has/have + been + present participle] * You have been waiting here for two hours. * Have you been waiting here for two hours? * You have not been waiting here for two hours. USE 1 Duration from the Past Until Now We use the Present Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect Continuous. * They have been talking for the last hour. * She has been working at that company for three years. * What have you been doing for the last 30 minutes? * James has been teaching at the university since June. USE 2 Recently, Lately You can also use the Present Perfect Continuous WITHOUT a duration such as "for two weeks." Without the duration, the tense has a more general meaning of "lately." We often use the words "lately" or "recently" to emphasize this meaning. * Recently, I have been feeling really tired. * She has been watching too much television lately. * Have you been exercising lately? * Mary has been feeling a little depressed. IMPORTANT Remember that the Present Perfect Continuous has the meaning of "lately" or "recently." If you use the Present Perfect Continuous in a question such as "Have you been feeling alright?", it can suggest that the person looks sick or unhealthy. A question such as "Have you been smoking?" can suggest that you smell the smoke on the person. Using this tense in a question suggests you can see, smell, hear or feel the results of the action. It is possible to insult someone by using this tense incorrectly. REMEMBER Non-Continuous Verbs/ Mixed Verbs It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Present Perfect Continuous with these verbs, you must use Present Perfect. * Sam has been having his car for two years. Not Correct
2 * Sam has had his car for two years. Correct ADVERB PLACEMENT The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc. * You have only been waiting here for one hour. * Have you only been waiting here for one hour? FORM [has/have + past participle] * You have seen that movie many times. * Have you seen that movie many times? * You have not seen that movie many times. USE 1 Unspecified Time Before Now We use the Present Perfect to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact time is not important. You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc. We CAN use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc. * I have seen that movie twenty times. * I think I have met him once before. * There have been many earthquakes in California. * People have travelled to the Moon. * Have you read the book yet? How Do You Actually Use the Present Perfect? The concept of "unspecified time" can be very confusing to English learners. It is best to associate Present Perfect with the following topics: TOPIC 1 Experience You can use the Present Perfect to describe your experience. It is like saying, "I have the experience of..." You can also use this tense to say that you have never had a certain experience. The Present Perfect is NOT used to describe a specific event. * I have been to France. This sentence means that you have had the experience of being in France. Maybe you have been there once, or several times. * I have been to France three times. You can add the number of times at the end of the sentence.
3 * I have never been to France. This sentence means that you have not had the experience of going to France. TOPIC 2 Change Over Time We often use the Present Perfect to talk about change that has happened over a period of time. * You have grown since the last time I saw you. * The government has become more interested in arts education. * My English has really improved since I moved to Australia. TOPIC 3 Accomplishments We often use the Present Perfect to list the accomplishments of individuals and humanity. You cannot mention a specific time. * Man has walked on the Moon. * Our son has learned how to read. * Doctors have cured many deadly diseases. * Scientists have split the atom. TOPIC 4 An Uncompleted Action You Are Expecting We often use the Present Perfect to say that an action which we expected has not happened. Using the Present Perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action to happen. * James has not finished his homework yet. * Bill has still not arrived. * The rain hasn't stopped. TOPIC 5 Multiple Actions at Different Times We also use the Present Perfect to talk about several different actions which have occurred in the past at different times. Present Perfect suggests the process is not complete and more actions are possible. * The army has attacked that city five times. * I have had four quizzes and five tests so far this semester. * She has talked to several specialists about her problem, but nobody knows why she is sick. Time Expressions with Present Perfect When we use the Present Perfect it means that something has happened at some point in our lives before now. Remember, the exact time the action happened is not important.
4 Sometimes, we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience. We can do this with expressions such as: in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now, etc. * Have you been to Mexico in the last year? * I have seen that movie six times in the last month. * They have had three tests in the last week. * My car has broken down three times this week. NOTICE "Last year" and "in the last year" are very different in meaning. "Last year" means the year before now, and it is considered a specific time which requires Simple Past. "In the last year" means from 365 days ago until now. It is not considered a specific time, so it requires Present Perfect. * I went to Mexico last year. I went to Mexico in the calendar year before this one. * I have been to Mexico in the last year. USE 2 Duration From the Past Until Now (Non-Continuous Verbs) With Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Present Perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect. * I have had a cold for two weeks. * She has been in England for six months. * Mary has loved chocolate since she was a little girl. Although the above use of Present Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words "live," "work," "teach," and "study" are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs. ADVERB PLACEMENT The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc. * You have only seen that movie one time. * Have you only seen that movie one time?
5 Exercises Using the words in parentheses, complete the text below with the appropriate tenses. 1. Robin: I think the waiter (forget) us. We (wait) here for over half an hour and nobody (take) our order yet. Michele: I think you're right. He (walk) by us at least twenty times. He probably thinks we (order, already). Robin: Look at that couple over there, they (be, only) here for five or ten minutes and they already have their food. Michele: He must realize we (order, not) yet! We (sit) here for over half an hour staring at him. Robin: I don't know if he (notice, even) us. He (run) from table to table taking orders and serving food. Michele: That's true, and he (look, not) in our direction once. 1. Judy: How long (be) in Canada? Claude: I (study) here for more than three years. 2. I (have) the same car for more than ten years. I'm thinking about buying a new one. 3. I (love) chocolate since I was a child. You might even call me a "chocoholic." 4. Matt and Sarah (have) some difficulties in their relationship lately, so they (go) to a marriage counsellor. I hope they work everything out. 5. John (work) for the government since he graduated from Harvard University. Until recently, he (enjoy) his work, but now he is talking about retiring. 6. Lately, I (think) about changing my career because I (become) dissatisfied with the conditions at my company. 7. I (see) Judy for more than five years and during that time I (see) many changes in her personality.
6 Exercises Using the words in parentheses, complete the text below with the appropriate tenses. 1. Robin: I think the waiter has forgotten (forget) us. We have been waiting (wait) here for over half an hour and nobody has taken(take) our order yet. Michele: I think you're right. He has walked (walk) by us at least twenty times. He probably thinks we have already ordered (order, already). Robin: Look at that couple over there, they have only been (be, only) here for five or ten minutes and they already have their food. Michele: He must realize we haven t ordered (order, not) yet! We have been sitting (sit) here for over half an hour staring at him. Robin: I don't know if he has even noticed (notice, even) us. He has been running (run) from table to table taking orders and serving food. Michele: That's true, and he hasn t looked (look, not) in our direction once. 1. Judy: How long have you been (be) in Canada? Claude: I have been studying (study) here for more than three years. 2. I have had (have) the same car for more than ten years. I'm thinking about buying a new one. 3. I have loved (love) chocolate since I was a child. You might even call me a "chocoholic." 4. Matt and Sarah have been having (have) some difficulties in their relationship lately, so they have been going (go) to a marriage counsellor. I hope they work everything out. 5. John has been working (work) for the government since he graduated from Harvard University. Until recently, he has enjoyed (enjoy) his work, but now he is talking about retiring. 6. Lately, I have been thinking (think) about changing my career because I have become (become) dissatisfied with the conditions at my company. 7. I have been seeing (see) Judy for more than five years and during that time I have seen (see) many changes in her personality.
The present perfect verb tense is a little difficult in English it is used in several different ways, and there are lots of rules to remember. This lesson will teach you everything you ever wanted to know
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