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The Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense is most often used for the following:

- For past events with a connection to the present
- With words of unfinished time

How to form the present perfect  |  Present perfect continuous

For past events with a connection to the present

The present perfect tense is quite complicated to explain. It is used when an action that happened in the past continues to have a strong connection in the present. The best way to understand it is to look at some examples. They are followed in each case by a short explanation:

With words of unfinished time

The present perfect tense is used with words or expressions of unfinished time. Unfinished time started in the past and continues into the present. (So you can see how this use of the present perfect is connected with use 1 above.) Here are some sentences in the present perfect. The expressions of unfinished time are shown in bold.

** Be careful: sometimes an expression of unfinished time can be used with the past simple tense. Look at these examples and explanations:

The speaker is talking in the evening so for him this morning is finished time.

The student is talking after school when there is no more possibility of seeing John on this day. Today becomes an expression of finished time.

This is possible if the speaker is talking very near to the end of the year, and so in her opinion the year is finished. Therefore she uses the past simple was.

Do a quiz on this grammar topic.


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