Using The Present Perfect Tense: Rules and Examples

The present perfect tense is used to discuss past events or actions that affect the present, to discuss new changes or extra information, or for continuing situations. It’s a tense that links the past and present and can be used in many different ways.

Present perfect is often one of the hardest tenses for speakers to grasp because it doesn’t translate well into other languages. Its use also depends on where you come from, as there are a few inconsistencies between British and American English.

But don’t worry; as always, in this article, we will give you plenty of examples, explain how this tense is used and functions, and give you some further resources to help you along the way.

Are you ready?

Present Perfect Tense Examples

Present Perfect Tense: Grammar Structure With Examples

Forming a Present perfect sentence is pretty straightforward as the structure is simple- you take the present participle tense of the verb, ‘to have,’ and add the past participle of the chosen main verb, such as;

  • To be (present simple tense base verb)

And change it to past participle, which would be,

  • Been

Note: Some verbs are irregular in certain tenses, such as ‘to be.’ When using a regular verb, we usually add -ed or -d at the end of the main verb to make the past participle. However, there are a few exceptions, so when you learn a new verb, it’s worth researching to see if it’s irregular or not.

Then form the sentence. In the affirmative, it would be:

  • I have been
  • You have been
  • She has been
  • He has been
  • We have been
  • They have been
  • It has been

Note: The present participle of ‘have’ changes depending on the subject regardless of whether you’re forming an affirmative, negative, or interrogative sentence.

You can also use contractions to shorten sentences in informal writing and general speech. For example:

  • I’ve (I have)
  • You’ve (You have)
  • She’s (She has)
  • He’s (He has)
  • We’ve (We have)
  • They’ve (They have)

Example sentences using ‘have’ and ‘been’:

  • I have never been to the States.
  • I’ve been married for 2 years.
  • We have been in this house for such a long time.
  • They’ve visited France three times.

Using The Present Perfect In Affirmative Sentences With Examples

We affirmatively use the present perfect for confirming the following:

  • Completed actions that have happened in the past still affect the present and are connected to the present situation.

Like most verb tenses, we can add adverbs of time to modify the sentence. For example:

  • Still
  • Yet
  • Already
  • Just

We use the following structure when forming a sentence using the present perfect and an adverb of time:

Subject + have/has + adverb of time + past participle verb + any extra information.

Example sentences using the affirmative in the present perfect tense:

  • She has worked on a crucial presentation this afternoon. 
  • I have attempted it so many times. 
  • They have just been born.
  • You’ve already eaten one.

Using The Present Perfect In Negative Sentences With Examples

The present perfect is also used negatively. Instead of just using ‘to have, or has,’ we add -not. For example:

  • I have not, or I haven’t
  • She has not, or she hasn’t
  • He has not, or he hasn’t
  • And so on.

In this case, the structure would be:

Subject + have/has + -not + past participle verb + any extra information.

For example:

  • We haven’t finished our homework.

Or when adding in an adverb of time:

Subject + have/has + -not + adverb of time + past participle verb + any extra information.

For example:

  • They still haven’t finished their homework.

Or

Subject + have/has + -not + past participle verb + any extra information + adverb of time.

For example:

  • We haven’t finished our homework yet.

Example sentences using the negative in the present perfect tense:

  • We haven’t been to the States.
  • I still haven’t tried ramen.
  • They haven’t been born yet.
  • She hasn’t worked on her important presentation yet.

Using The Present Perfect In Interrogative Sentences With Examples

Interrogative sentences are questions where we gain extra information from asking them. They can be positive or negative.

 The structure changes ever so slightly, like with the following:

Have/has + subject + past participle + extra information +?

For example:

  • Have you been to Europe?

Or, in the negative interrogative:

Have/has + -not + subject + past participle + extra information +?

  • Haven’t you been to Europe yet?

Example sentences using the affirmative interrogative in the present perfect tense:

  • Has she finished her job yet?
  • What have you done?
  • Have they been born yet?
  • Has she started her presentation?

Example sentences using the negative interrogative in the present perfect tense:

  • Hasn’t she finished her job?
  • Hasn’t she found her keys yet?
  • Haven’t they been born?

Present Perfect Tense: Active Voice vs. Passive Voice

The present perfect tense can be used in the active or passive voice, depending on what you want to say.

  • The active voice is used in the present perfect tense to indicate when something has finished. The focus is always on the subject that has completed the action.
  • The passive voice is used for the same purpose, to indicate something is finished, but the subject of that action isn’t necessary; the focus is placed more on the action itself and the result.

Check out our article on Active vs. Passive Voice to learn more about how to use the passive and active voice, and as always, for more tips and tricks, take a look at other grammar articles on our site.

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