The present perfect tense connects the past with the present. Use this tense to emphasise the result of a past action, especially when the exact time of this action is not important. The present perfect is formed using a present form of the verb have and the past participle of the main verb. Be aware that many languages have a tense that is similar to the present perfect, however, the usage is probably different.
Learn about the conjugation of regular and irregular verbs in the present perfect and master the usage of this tricky English tense. In the exercises, you can test your grammar skills.
James loves football and plays very well. He has bought new trainers and now he plays even better than before.
James is the team captain because he has never lost a match.
It looks like his team will win this match as well. James has just scored a goal and the referee has not blown the final whistle yet. The other team has not scored a goal so far.
We use the present perfect tense to express:
- an action that has recently been completed
- He has just scored a goal.
When he scored the goal is not important.
- a completed action with influence on the present
- He has bought new trainers and now he plays even better than before.
- an action that has never happened, or has happened once or several times up to the time of speaking
- He has never lost a match.
- The referee has not blown the final whistle yet.
- The other team has not scored a goal so far.
Learn about the differences between English present tenses on Lingolia’s English Tense Comparison page:
Signal Words: English Present Perfect Tense
Signal words can help us to recognise the tense in a sentence. The signal words for the present perfect are:
- already, just, not yet
- ever, never
- so far, till now, up to now
just, already and yet
We use the signal words just, already and yet in different situations.
In positive sentences, we use just to say that something has happened very recently.
- Have you read this book yet?
Yes, I’ve just read it.
To say whether something has happened or not, we use already and yet. Already is used in positive sentences, whereas, yet is used in negative sentences and questions.
- Have you read this book yet?
Yes, I’ve already read it./ No, I haven't read it yet.
Conjugation of English Present Perfect Tense
To conjugate the present perfect tense in English we use the present form of the auxiliary verb have and the past participle of the main verb. The table below provides and overview of the conjugation in positive, negative and interrogative sentences.
|I/you/we/they||I have played/spoken||I have not played/spoken||Have I played/spoken?|
|he/she/it||he has played/spoken||he has not played/spoken||Has he played/spoken?|
Past participle – Spelling Rules
The past participle for regular verbs is formed by adding -ed to the base form of the verb. The past participle of irregular verbs is different and should be memorised. However, here are a few exceptions to take note of when conjugating the past participle of regular verbs:
- When a verb ends with -e, we simply add a -d.
- love – loved (not: loveed)
- The final consonant is doubled after short stressed vowels.
- admit – admitted
- The final consonant -l is always doubled after a vowel in British English but not in American English.
- travel – travelled (British), traveled (American)
- A -y at the end of the word is replaced by an -i.
- hurry – hurried
Contractions are a combination of certain pronouns, verbs and the word not. They are mostly used in spoken and informal written English. The table below provides an overview of contractions in the present perfect tense using the verb have.
|have not||…’ve not/… haven’t||I’ve not/I haven’t|
|has not||…’s not/… hasn’t||he’s not/he hasn’t|
- They’ve not played football.
- (but not: The girls’ve not played football)
However, the contraction of has and not, can be used after nouns as well as pronouns. Except when the word already ends in -s.
- He’s/The boy’s played football.
- (but not:
James’s played football.)