1.2 TRY SOMETHING NEW: Present Perfect

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Question English
Answer English

The perfect in English always links two time periods.
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The present perfect links the past to the present in the following ways: Time up to now Recent events Ongoing situation

Time up to now
We've met before. Have you seen Jo this week?
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a completed action or experience that happened at some point in the past before now, e.g. in my life, this year, today. The exact time it happened is not specified.

Recent events
No coffee for me, thanks. I've already had one. I've lost my phone. Has anyone seen it?
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a completed action which has a present result or is in some other way relevant to the present. The exact time it happened is not specified.

Ongoing situation
How long have you been on Twitter? I've swum every morning since May.
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an uncompleted state or repeated action that started in the past and continues up to now.

I lived in Lisbon for 5 years / I've lived in Lisbon for 5 years.
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Past simple: used to speak about finished actions in the past/ present perfect: it links the past to the present.

I had coffee this morning / I've already had coffee this morning.
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finished period / not finished period

Time phrases to talk about the past - Present perfect:
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just, already, not yet, ever, recently, lately, since, so far, up to now, until now, over the last year, still not.

Time phrases to talk about the past - Past simple:
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yesterday, ago, this time last week, on Thursday, on 12th May, last week / month / year / winter, when I was younger, until then.

Time phrases to talk about the past - Both (Present Perfect and Past Simple):
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never, always, for, before, in the summer, today, this morning / afternoon (depending on whether the period is finished or not)

You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as:
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yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Brazil, at that moment, that day, one day, etc.

We CAN use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as:
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ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc.

I (see) that movie twenty times.
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I have seen that movie twenty times.

There (be) many earthquakes in California.
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There have been many earthquakes in California.

People (travel) to the Moon.
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People have traveled to the Moon.

People (travel, not) to Mars.
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People have not traveled to Mars.

(read) you the book yet?
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Have you read the book yet?

Nobody (climb, ever) that mountain.
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Nobody has ever climbed that mountain.

(be, ever) there a war in the United States?
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Has there ever been a war in the United States?

Yes, there (be) a war in the United States.
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Yes, there has been a war in the United States.

How do you actually use the Present Perfect?
experience, change over time, accomplishments, an uncompleted action you are expecting, multiple actions at different times.
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The concept of 'unspecified time' can be very confusing to English learners. It is best to associate Present Perfect with the following topics:
experience, change over time, accomplishments, an uncompleted action you are expecting, multiple actions at different times.

Topic 1: Experience
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You can use the Present Perfect to describe your experience. The Present Perfect is NOT used to describe a specific event.

I (be) to France.
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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 (be) to France three times.
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I have been to France three times. You can add the number of times at the end of the sentence.

I (never, be) to France.
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I have never been to France. This sentence means that you have not had the experience of going to France.

I think I (see) that movie before.
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I think I have seen that movie before.

He (never, travel) by train.
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He has never traveled by train.

Joan (study) two foreign languages.
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Joan has studied two foreign languages.

(ever, meet) you him?
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Have you ever met him?

No, I (not, meet) him.
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No, I have not met him.

Topic 2: Change over time
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We often use the Present Perfect to talk about change that has happened over a period of time.

You (grow) since the last time I saw you.
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You have grown since the last time I saw you.

The government (become) more interested in arts education.
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The government has become more interested in arts education.

Japanese (become) one of the most popular courses at the university since the Asian studies program was established.
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Japanese has become one of the most popular courses at the university since the Asian studies program was established.

My English (really, improve) since I moved to Ireland.
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My English has really improved since I moved to Ireland.

Topic 3: Accomplishments
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We often use the Present Perfect to list the accomplishments of individuals and the humanity. You cannot mention a specific time.

Man (walk) on the Moon.
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Man has walked on the Moon.

Our son (learn) how to read.
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Our son has learned how to read.

Doctors (cure) many deadly diseases.
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Doctors have cured many deadly diseases.

Scientists (split) the atom.
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Scientists have split the atom.

Topic 4: An uncompleted action you are expecting
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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 (not, finish) his homework yet.
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James has not finished his homework yet.

Susan (not, master) Japanese, but she can communicate.
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Susan hasn't mastered Japanese, but she can communicate.

Bill (still, not, arrive).
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Bill has still not arrived.

The rain (not, stop).
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The rain hasn't stopped.

Topic 5: Multiple actions at different times
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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 (attack) that city five times.
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The army has attacked that city five times.

I (have) four quizzes and five tests so far this semester.
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I have had four quizzes and five tests so far this semester.

We (have) many major problems while working on this project.
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We have had many major problems while working on this project.

She (talk) to several specialists about her problem, but nobody knows why she is sick.
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She has talked to several specialists about her problem, but nobody knows why she is sick.

Present perfect: use 1 and use 2.
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USE 1- Unspecified time before now. USE 2 Duration from the past until now (non-continuous verbs)

USE 2- Duration from the past until now (non-continuous verbs)
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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
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the Present Perfect.

work, teach, and study are sometimes used
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work, teach, and study are sometimes used with Present Perfect, even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs.

I (have) a cold for two weeks.
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I have had a cold for two weeks.

She (be) in England for six months.
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She has been in England for six months.

Mary (love) chocolate since she was a little girl.
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Mary has loved chocolate since she was a little girl.

Adverbe placement: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc
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Exemples: You have only seen that movie one time. Have you only seen that movie one time?

Active / Passive
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Many tourists have visited that castle. That castle has been visited by many tourists.

Time expressions with Present Perfect
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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.

Sometimes, we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience. We can do this with expressions such as:
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in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now, etc.

(you, be) to Mexico in the last year?
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Have you been to Mexico in the last year?

I (see) that movie six times in the last month.
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I have seen that movie six times in the last month.

They (have) three tests in the last week.
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They have had three tests in the last week.

She graduated from university less than three years ago. She (work) for three different companies so far.
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She graduated from university less than three years ago. She has worked for three different companies so far.

My car (break) down three times this week.
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My car has broken down three times this week.

Last year and in the last year are very different in meaning.
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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.

We use the present perfect to talk about
I've cleaned my shoes. (So they're clean now.) Mr Green has bought a new car. (So it's his car now.) Joanna hasn't eaten any toast. (The toast is still on the table.) Have you finished the housework? No, I haven't. I'm still doing it.
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the present result of a past action.

We use the present perfect to talk about
I've just written that letter.
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something that happened only a short time ago (... just...)

We use the present perfect to talk about
You haven't posted the letter yet. Have you found those stamps yet? No, not yet.
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an action that we are expecting (... yet)

We use the present perfect to talk about
Have you seen Sarah today? No, I haven't. I haven't seen her this week.
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something that happened during a period of time that is not yet finished (... today... this week)

We use the present perfect to talk about
How long has Ann lived here? Oh, only for six months. She's been here since April.
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something that began in the past and has stayed the same up to the present (... for six months... since April)

We use the present perfect to talk about
Have you ever eaten rabbit? Yes, lots of times. Well, I've never had it.
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something that happened during a period of time which began in the past and has gone on up to the present (... ever... never...)


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