Present Perfect Tense

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What Is the Present Perfect Tense? (with Examples)

The present perfect tense describes an action that began in the past (despite being a present tense). For example:
  • John has taken Sarah's advice.
  • They have fixed the fence.
Often, the action being described is still continuing into the present (e.g., John continues to take Sarah's advice). This is how the present perfect tense differs from the simple past tense.

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the present perfect tense:

Infographic for the Present Perfect Tense

Here is an infographic explaining the present perfect tense:

present perfect tense

More Examples of the Present Perfect Tense

Here are some more examples of the present perfect tense:
  • The board has decided to uphold the appeal.
  • (This sentence carries the connotation that the board continues to uphold the appeal.)
  • I have taken the wrong path.
  • (Connotation: I am still on the wrong path.)

Comparing the Present Perfect Tense and the Simple Past Tense

Here is another example of the present perfect tense (highlighted). For comparison, the example is given alongside similar-looking example featuring the simple past tense.
  • Janet has run two miles.
  • (This is the present perfect tense. In this example, Janet is still running when the words were said.)
  • Janet ran two miles.
  • (This is the simple past tense. In this example, Janet has stopped running when the words were said.)
Here is another example:
  • David has worked alongside two of the world's finest scientists in the field of entomology.
  • (This is the present perfect tense. In this example, David might have finished working with those scientists, but the sentence carries the connotation that he is still working as an entomologist.)
  • David worked alongside two of the world's finest scientists in the field of entomology.
  • (This is the simple past tense. This example carries the connotation that David no longer works as an entomologist.)

Forming the Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is formed:

[subject]
+
"has" or "have"
+
[past participle]

  • I have worked.
  • She has painted.

Forming the Past Participle (Regular Verbs)

If it's a regular verb, the past participle is the same as the simple past tense. In other words, it is formed like this:

Add "ed" to most verbs:
  • jump > jumped
  • paint > painted

If a verb of one syllable ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], double the final consonant and add "ed":
  • chat > chatted
  • stop > stopped

If the final consonant is "w," "x," or "y," don't double it:
  • sew > sewed
  • play > played
  • fix > fixed

If last syllable of a longer verb is stressed and ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], double the last consonant and add "ed":
  • incur > incurred
  • prefer > preferred

If the first syllable of a longer verb is stressed and the verb ends [consonant-vowel-consonant], just add "ed":
  • open > opened
  • enter > entered
  • swallow > swallowed

If the verb ends "e," just add "d":
  • thrive > thrived
  • guzzle > guzzled

If the verb ends [consonant + "y"], change the "y" to an "i" and add "ed":
  • cry > cried
  • fry > fried

Forming the Past Participle (Irregular Verbs)

If it's an irregular verb, the past participle is formed in all sorts of different ways. Here are some examples:
  • arise > arisen
  • catch > caught
  • choose > chosen
  • know > known

You just have to learn them.

Read more about irregular verbs (includes a list of the most common irregular verbs).

The Negative Version

If you need the negative version, you can use the following construction:
[subject]
+
"has not" or "have not"
+
[past participle]
  • The board has not decided to uphold the appeal.
  • I have not taken the wrong path.
Remember that "has not" is sometimes written as the contraction "hasn't."

The Question Version

If you need to ask a question, you can use the following word order for a yes/no question:
"has" or "have"
+
[subject]
+
[past participle]
  • Has the board decided to uphold the appeal?
  • Have I taken the wrong path?
You can use the following word order for a question-word question:
[question word]
+
"has" or "have"
+
[subject]
+
[past participle]
  • Why has the board decided to uphold the appeal?
  • How have I taken the wrong path?

Verb Tense Widget

Use this widget to learn about the different tenses. How do you use this widget? Well, if there's a button, a drop-down menu, or a , then you can click it!
to base form

( verb)

Select the tenses.

Present Tenses

Simple Present Tense The simple present tense is mostly used to describe facts and habits. More...(opens new tab) I base form you base form he/she/it 3rd pers sing present we base form you base form they base form Present Progressive Tense The present progressive tense is used for an ongoing action in the present. More...(opens new tab) I am present participle you are present participle he/she/it is present participle we are present participle you are present participle they are present participle Present Perfect Tense The present perfect tense is used for actions that began in the past. (Often, the actions continue into the present.) More...(opens new tab) I have past participle you have past participle he/she/it has past participle we have past participle you have past participle they have past participle Present Perfect Progressive Tense The present perfect progressive tense is used for a continuous activity that began in the past and continues into the present, or a continuous activity that began in past but has now finished (usually very recently). More...(opens new tab) I have been present participle you have been present participle he/she/it has been present participle we have been present participle you have been present participle they have been present participle

Past Tenses

Simple Past The simple past tense is used to describe a completed activity that happened in the past. More...(opens new tab) I past tense you past tense he/she/it past tense we past tense you past tense they past tense Past Progressive Tense The past progressive tense is used to describe an ongoing activity in the past. Often, it is used to set the scene for another action. More...(opens new tab) I was present participle you were present participle he/she/it was present participle we were present participle you were present participle they were present participle Past Perfect Tense The past perfect tense is used to emphasize that an action was completed before another took place. More...(opens new tab) I had past participle you had past participle he/she/it had past participle we had past participle you had past participle they had past participle Past Perfect Progressive Tense The past perfect progressive tense is used to show that an ongoing action in the past has ended. More...(opens new tab) I had been present participle you had been present participle he/she/it had been present participle we had been present participle you had been present participle they had been present participle

Future Tenses

Simple Future The simple future tense is used for an action that will occur in the future. More...(opens new tab) I will base form you will base form he/she/it will base form we will base form you will base form they will base form Future Progressive Tense The future progressive tense is used for an ongoing action that will occur in the future. More...(opens new tab) I will be present participle you will be present participle he/she/it will be present participle we will be present participle you will be present participle they will be present participle Future Perfect Tense The future perfect tense is used to describe an action that will have been completed at some point in the future. More...(opens new tab) I will have past participle you will have past participle he/she/it will have past participle we will have past participle you will have past participle they will have past participle Future Perfect Progressive Tense The future perfect progressive tense is used for an ongoing action that will be completed at some specified time in the future. More...(opens new tab) I will have been present participle you will have been present participle he/she/it will have been present participle we will have been present participle you will have been present participle they will have been present participle

The Other Present Tenses

The present perfect tense is one of four present tenses. This table shows all four of the present tenses:
The 4 Present Tenses Example
simple present tense I go
present progressive tense I am going
present perfect tense I have gone
present perfect progressive tense I have been going

Slider Showing All the Tenses

The following slider shows all 12 tenses. The present perfect tense is highlighted with a yellow background.
Ready for the Test?
Here is a confirmatory test for this lesson.

This test can also be:
  • Edited (i.e., you can delete questions and play with the order of the questions).
  • Printed to create a handout.
  • Sent electronically to friends or students.

See Also

Take a test on the present perfect tense Tenses Simple past tense Past progressive tense Past perfect tense Past perfect progressive tense Simple present tense Present progressive tense Present perfect progressive tense Simple future tense Future progressive tense Future perfect tense Future perfect progressive tense