Present Perfect What?!

Okay, so you want to speak more fluently. You want to talk more like a native.

The good news is that you can. The bad news is that you cannot do it without becoming a Present Perfect Master.

Just in case you are new to this tense its structure is: has/have + verb 3.

Now, let's continue...

Interestingly, most students have some idea that this tense is used to talk about an activity that started in the past and is still continuing now:

I have lived in Istanbul since 2011.

I have worked at Deloitte for 6 years.

What they often do no know is that there are another two functions or uses for this tense. In this short article I will only mention the main one which is often referred to as "Life experience".

This use is very helpful if you are meeting someone for the first time or you are curious about what things a person has done in their past.

Have you ever done a bungee jump?

Have you read the Harry Potter books?

Have you been to the U.S.?

So, these life experience examples are actions that started in the past and finished in the past.

But wait! Isn't that Past Tense? What's the difference? How do I know which one to use?

They key is time.

Check these out:

Last week, I visited grandma in the hospital.


I have visited grandma in the hospital.

I finished watching The Lord of the Rings series last night.


I have finished watching The Lord of the Rings series.

Did you go to France last summer?


Have you been to France?

You can see that all the Past Tense sentences include a time clause whereas the Present Perfect ones don't. Why is this? Basically, if you don't care about when something happened or the time isn't important - you should use Present Perfect.

I hope that this quick and basic run-down (see 'run down' #5) of the key principles made this difficult tense clearer for you.

For a more detailed discussion and for more advanced points about Present Perfect, I suggest that you make a booking with your favourite teacher.

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