Present Perfect Tense for Experience

The Present Perfect tense refers to an action or state that either occurred at an indefinite time in the past (e.g., we have met before) or began in the past and continued to the present (e.g., he has learnt much over the last month).

Meaning

We use the Present Perfect to ask about life experiences. We often use the adverb ‘ever’ to talk about experience up to the present:

  • I’ve been to India twice.
  • She hasn’t eaten sushi.

This tense expresses actions of duration that occurred in the past (before now) but are of unspecified time:

Present Perfect illustration
via https://writingexplained.org/grammar-dictionary/present-perfect-tense

Positive and negative forms of Present Perfect

To form the Present Perfect use:

[Subject] + has/have + Past Participle of verb

  • Tom has been to London.
  • Sue has been to London too.
  • They have (both) been to London.
  • Sue hasn’t been to Paris.
  • Sue has never been to Paris.

In negative forms, we add ‘not‘ or use ‘never‘:

  • Have you ever met George?
  • Yes, but I’ve never met his wife.
I
You
We
They
have

haven’t (have not)
Past Participle
He
She
It
has

hasn’t (has not)

Questions in Present Perfect

  • Tom: Have you ever been to London?
  • Sue: Yes, I have.
  • Tom: Me too. What about Paris?  Have you ever been to Paris?  
  • Sue: No, I haven’t – but I’d love to go!
HaveI
you
we
they
(ever)Past Participle
Hashe
she
it

Short answers

With short answers, we use:

  • Have you ever been to London?
  • Yes, I / you / we / they have. – Yes, he / she / it has.
  • No, I / you / we / they haven’t. – No, he / she / it hasn’t.

Past Participle

The Past Participles of regular verbs end in ‘ed’:

  • Tom has visited Big Ben.
  • He has walked in Hyde Park.
  • He has travelled on a red bus.

A lot of common verbs have irregular past participles:

  • He has been to London.
  • He has seen the river Thames.
  • He has eaten fish and chips.
go → beenbuy → bought
see → seendrive → driven
eat → eatenhave → had
drink → drunkwrite → written

Present Perfect & Past Simple

Compare:

  • Tom has been to London. (Present Perfect)
  • He went there in 2016. (Past Simple)

We use the Present Perfect to talk about life experiences. However, we use the Past Simple when we talk about an action at a definite past time.

Check out this video and learn how to use Present Perfect to talk about past experiences:

See also:

Present Perfect or Past Simple?

Present Perfect: Statements

Present Perfect: Negative & Questions

Present Perfect for Unfinished Past

Present Perfect with ‘Just’ and ‘Yet’

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