The Present perfect tense form helps talk about
actions and states in the
i. present time
ii. future time
iii. three times (inclusive)
iv. past times.
i. present time
1. We start some actions sometime in the past and complete them in the present time
I have filled the questionnaire. (I started filling sometime ago.)
He has washed the clothes. (I started washing sometime ago.)
2. actions that started in the past time and continue in the present time:
The police have not caught the thief.
(Attempt to catch the thief started sometime in the past but it is still continuing)
I’ve never seen such a beautiful sunset.
(I saw several sunsets in the past, the present sunset is the most beautiful.)
I’ve not visited my parents for quite some time now. (= I’m yet to visit)
He has been in the army since 1990. (=He’s still in the army.)
Have you known him for long? (=You know him even now.)
You haven’t given me an answer. (You’re yet to reply.)
They haven’t faxed the particulars. (=The particulars are not here even now.)
He has sung in this choir ever since he was a boy. (=He continues to be in the choir.)
This district has suffered from disastrous floods throughout history.
(=The suffering happens from time to time and people are suffering now)
I’ve never seen a cheetah. (=I’m yet to see a cheetah.)
ii. past time
3. actions that started and completed in the recent past time:
He’s just gone out. = He went out a few minutes ago.
The post has just come.= The post came only a moment ago.
Note: ‘Recent’ means that the past time is so close to the present time that the action is considered more
present that past.
He went out a little while ago/ an hour ago/ in the morning.
He went out just now. }
The post came just now.} when we use ‘just now’, the tense has to be in the
4. the results in the present time of actions that completed in the recent past time:
I’ve lost my pen. (=I lost it last night. I’m unable to write.)
I’ve forgotten to bring the cheque book.
(I forgot it at the time of starting for the office, so I am unable to help you now.)
My dad has bought a car. (=My dad bought it yesterday. So, we don’t have to take the bus.)
We’ve gathered all the information you wanted.
(= You can now discuss how to put the information to use.)
5. the focus in on the result in the present time of actions whose completion is indefinite in
the past time (what is important here is not when the action took place; what is important is whether we
can do now some activity related to it):
Have you read David Copperfield?
(=Do you know the story?/ Can we discuss it?)
Yes, I have been to London. (=I can give you useful information about London.)
All our children have had measles.
(=They know now what it is like/ They are now immune to it.)
I’ve never known her to be so angry.
(=She showed her anger in the past, but now she’s very angry. What could be the reason for
I’ve already met your sister.
(=I met her in a party a few weeks ago. So, there is no need for introduction.)
iii. future time
6. actions in ‘time’ clauses that will be completed sometime in the future:
I’ll repair your bicycle when I’ve finished this job.
By the time you’ve read the book, you’ll know all the answers.
I’ll come with you, but wait until I’ve written this letter.
Let him go once he has answered all your questions.
iv. Adverbs that go with present perfect
Have you had lunch yet?
Have they still not replied to our letter?
Has anyone ever climbed Mt. Everest alone?
I’ve already decided how to deal with him.
The population has increased tremendously during this century.
We’ve lost a lot of business this year.
He’s rung up three times already.
I’ve lived here for twenty years.
I’ve lived here since 1991.
Note: Most of us make the mistake of saying ‘since twenty years’.
for + length of time/duration of time of the action
for a long time, for the third week in succession, for two weeks, for the last week
since + the starting time of the action
since yesterday, since last week, since Monday, since September, since 2002
v. Note the differences in meaning
Somu lived in Paris for ten years. (=he no longer lives there.)
Somu has lived in Paris for ten years. (=he still lives there.)
Where did you put my wallet? (=Do you remember where …)
Where have you put my wallet? (=I want to know where it is now.)
I saw wolves in that forest once.
(=There may be no wolves now./ The forest has been cut down.)
I’ve seen wolves in that forest. (Possibly you can see wolves even today.)