Present perfect tense

Present perfect tense

By Alena Lien, 

14 October 2020

Click below to expand each section. 


Affirmative sentences

[subject] + ["have/has"] + [past participle of main verb]

Conjugations of "have" and their contracted forms:

I have =         I've

You have =   You've

He has =       He's

She has =     She's

We have =    We've

They have = They've

It has =          It's

It is possible to have the verb "have" as both the auxiliary and main verb.

  • "She's walked down this path before."

  • "I've had enough to eat, thanks."

Negative sentences

[subject] + ["have/has not"] + [past participle of main verb]

  • "He hasn't arrived yet."

  • "We haven't completed the renovations."


["have/has"] + [subject] + [past participle of main verb]

[question words] + ["have/has"] + [subject] + [past participle of main verb]

Question words are:

  • Who

  • What

  • When

  • Why

  • Where

  • Which

  • How

It is also possible to have the verb "have" as both auxiliary and main verb.

  • "Has he started work?"

  • "How many times has he been to Australia?"

It is possible to make negative questions even though their use is quite specific. The structure for full forms and contracted forms are slightly different. However, contracted forms are preferred in general.

Contracted form:

["haven't/hasn't"] + [subject] + [past participle of main verb]

[question word] + ["haven't/hasn't"] + [subject] + [past participle of main verb]

  • "Hasn't he started work?"

  • "Why haven't they helped you with the move?"

Full form:

["have/has"] + [subject] + ["not"] + [past participle of main verb]

[question word] + ["have/has"] + [subject] + ["not"] + [past participle of main verb]

  • "Has he not started work?"

  • "Why have they not helped you with the move?"

Dynamic vs Static verbs


For perfect tenses, it is useful for ask, "Until this point, what happened?"

Although we use the present perfect tense to talk about events that started or happened in the past, it is easier to focus on the timeline - which starts some time in the past, and continues until the present.



These can be divided into completed and incomplete events.

There are also a number of adverbs and adjectives that are associated with its uses.

Completed events

1.   To refer to previous experiences without a specific time.

  • "Have we met? You look familiar."

Not - "Have we met yesterday?"


  • "We've tried the steak here. It's really good."

Not - "We've tried the steak here last weekend."

+   General ("indefinite") time expressions like "never," "ever," "before," "so far," "until now," etc.

  • "Have you ever eaten kangaroo meat before?"

  • "She's never seen Star Wars until now. Can you believe it?"

+   Ordinals - to express how many times we have had this experience.

  • "This is the first time I've driven a car."

  • "It's the third time he's visited Tasmania."

+   Superlative adjectives - to describe unique experiences.

  • "He said it was the most profound experience he's ever had."

  • "It was the worst movie I've ever seen."

+   "Since" - if you want to give a specific time.

  • "We've tried the steak here since they hired a new chef last month. It's really good."

  • "He's been on a date once since his breakup two years ago."

2.   To talk about recently completed events.

  • "Wally has returned from a business trip."

+   "Just" & "Recently" - to express how recent this happened and distinguish this from the previous use about past experiences.

  • "They've just arrived from the airport."

  • "Our company has recently opened another office in Tasmania."

+   "Already" - to emphasise that something is done.

  • "I've already taken a bath."

  • "The children have already had their dinner."

3.   To talk about past events with present results.

This is very similar to the previous use but this refers to recent events that has an impact on the present.

  • "He's broken his leg so he can't play with us this weekend."

  • "There's been an accident on the highway."

Incomplete events

4.   To refer to events that are not yet complete or continue past the time of speaking.

+   "For" & "Since" - often a specific time is given with this use.

  • "They've been married for 25 years."

Not - "They've been married."

  • "I haven't seen her since Eve's birthday party."

It is possible to say...

  • "I haven't seen him."

However, this would usually be a response to another person's question and implies something recent.

  • "Have you seen Wally?"

  •       "No, I haven't seen him."

+   Present time expressions - that relate to the present like "today," "this morning," "this year" etc.

  • "I've drank 3 cups of tea today."

  • "He's studied really hard this semester."

+   "Yet" - to refer to events that are incomplete or not done. This would also imply intent to do or finish something.

  • "I haven't finished my meal yet."

  • "Have you done your laundry yet?"

+   "Still" - when something continues to be incomplete or not done yet. This is usually used in the negative.

  • "I still haven't finished my meal."

  • "He still hasn't recovered from his cold."

More verb tenses