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Grammar: Uses of the Present Perfect

How to use the present perfect

Uses of the Present Perfect

There are three main uses of the present perfect tense:

  • to talk about experiences in our lives so far.
  • to talk about things that started in the past and are still the case now.
  • to talk about the recent past and to give news.

You’ll find a more detailed look at these three uses in our Grammar Reference section.  You can either read this before, to help you do the exercises, or after, to explain any mistakes you may have made.  Both ways have their good points!

Uses of the Present Perfect 1:  Past Simple or Present Perfect?

A common problem with the present perfect is knowing when to stop using it and change to the past simple.  Sometimes this is because the use of these two tenses may be different in your own language, for example in Spanish.  So lots of practice is a good idea!

When we use the present perfect to talk about our experiences, we never say when we did it, or when it happened to us.  If we want to give more details, we have to switch to the simple past.  Let’s practice this by completing the dialogues in the following exercise.

Uses of the Present Perfect 2:  For  or Since?

Here we’re focusing on using the present perfect to talk about something that started in the past and is still the case now.  Again, this is often different in other European languages, which tend to use the present simple in such cases.  Another aspect that can be problematic is deciding when to use for and when to use since.  

Don’t forget you can consult the Grammar Reference if you’re not sure of the rules.

Present Perfect:  More Key Words

There are other key words that we use with the present perfect as well as for and since.  Think about already, just, still, yet, ever, never, how long, how much, how many times …

These can cause confusion, so here’s a mini-test to practise them.


Grammar: Present Perfect Key Words

A quiz about key words we often use with the present perfect.

1 / 12

… have you been to Paris?

2 / 12

He's still here – he hasn't left ….

3 / 12

A: I didn't know the election result!  B: Well, it's only .... been announced.

4 / 12

He's known her …. four years.

5 / 12

…. has she worked there?

6 / 12

I haven't finished my homework …., so I can't go out.

7 / 12

No more cakes for me, thanks – I've …. eaten six!

8 / 12

It's hard to believe, but I …. haven't seen Game of Thrones.

9 / 12

Have you …. seen Cats?

10 / 12

A: Your hair's all wet! B: Yes, I've …. had a shower.

11 / 12

Has he called you back ….?

12 / 12

This is my first time in London. I've …. been here before.

Your score is


If you found this practice useful, why not do some more exercises on our website:

Grammar: Prepositions of Time

Grammar: Zero, 1st & 2nd Conditionals

Grammar: Reported Speech

And you can test your grammar here: Aptis Grammar Practice Test 1

4 thoughts on “Grammar: Uses of the Present Perfect”

  1. Hi Paco – thanks for your reply. I’ve double-checked the exercises and they both work fine. I thnk it’s because you weren’t using contractions (eg. ‘ve, ‘s) in Exercise 1, as instructed.
    I’ve edited the first exercise now, so that full-form answers (eg. I have, she has) are also correct. But remember that contractions sound much more natural, OK?

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