Present Perfect Tense - Learn the Meaning, Definition, Formula, Structure and Uses with Examples

The present perfect tense is indeed simple and easy if you try to understand and use it the right way. It seems to be confusing to some though the tense has a very simple structure. However, anything can be learnt, and so this article on present perfect tense is here to help your learning process. In this article, the meaning, definition, formula, structure and uses will be explained along with examples to help you understand better.

Table of Contents

What Is the Present Perfect Tense?

The present perfect tense is employed in a sentence to represent an action that just happened in the recent past and still has its effect in the present or an action that represents an indefinite time in the past. To have a clearer idea of the tense, let us look at how different dictionaries define the tense.

Definition of the Present Perfect Tense

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines the present perfect tense as “the form of a verb that expresses an action done in a time period up to the present, formed in English with the present tense of ‘have’ and the ‘past participle’ of the verb, as in I have eaten.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the present perfect tense is defined as “the form of the verb used for actions or events that have been completed or have happened in a period of time up to now.”

A much more elaborate definition is given by the Collins Dictionary and according to it, “the present perfect tenses of a verb are the ones used to talk about things which happened before the time you are speaking or writing but are relevant to the present situation, or things that began in the past and are still happening.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the present perfect tense as one “relating to, or constituting a verb tense that is traditionally formed in English with have and a past participle and that expresses an action or state begun in the past and completed at the time of speaking (as in “I have finished”) or continuing in the present (as in “We have lived here for several years”).

Structure and Formula of the Present Perfect Tense

The general formula of the present perfect tense is as described below:

Subject + have/has + past participle + the rest of the sentence

The structure of the present perfect tense can be analysed with reference to positive, negative, interrogative and negative interrogative types of sentences. Have a look at the table given below for a closer look at the same.

Structure of the Present Perfect Tense

Positive

Negative

Interrogative

Negative Interrogative

Subject + have/has + past participle + the rest of the sentence

Subject + have/has + not + past participle + the rest of the sentence

Have/has + subject + past participle + the rest of the sentence

Have/has + subject + not + past participle + the rest of the sentence

(or)

Haven’t / hasn’t + subject + past participle + the rest of the sentence

Examples:

  • I have finished my work.
  • You have finished your work.
  • He has finished his work.
  • She has finished her work.
  • They have finished their work.

Examples:

  • I have not finished my work.
  • You have not finished your work.
  • He has not finished his work.
  • She has not finished her work.
  • They have not finished their work.

Examples:

  • Have I finished my work?
  • Have you finished your work?
  • Has he finished his work?
  • Has she finished her work?
  • Have they finished their work?

Examples:

  • Haven’t I finished my work?
  • Haven’t you finished your work?
  • Hasn’t he finished his work?
  • Hasn’t she finished her work?
  • Haven’t they finished their work?
  • Have you not finished your work?
  • Has she not finished her work?
  • Has he not finished his work?
  • Have they not finished their work?

Rules to be Followed When Using the Present Perfect Tense

The very first thing that you will have to learn before you start using present perfect tense is how past participles are formed. In the English language, a past participle is formed by adding an ‘ed’ to the base form of the verb in most cases. However, there are a number of irregular verbs that have different spellings and do not, in any way, follow the concept of adding ‘ed’ to the base form like regular verbs. You can take a look at the extensive list of irregular verbs to analyse how these verbs are in their past participle form.

The next point to remember is that a sentence with the past perfect form of the verb uses two verbs – a helping verb and a main verb. ‘Have’ and ‘has’ are the two helping verbs that are used. ‘Have’ is used when the pronouns ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘they’ or plural nouns act as the subject in a sentence. ‘Has’ is used when the pronouns ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’ or singular nouns act as the subject.

Uses of the Present Perfect Tense

The present perfect tense can be used

  • To denote an action or event that happened or started in the past and still has its impact or some connection to the subject in the present.
  • To indicate an action that happened in the past and continues to occur in the present.
  • To connect the events of the present to the events that happened in the past.

Examples of the Present Perfect Tense

Learn how to use the present perfect tense effectively by going through the examples given below.

Examples of Present Perfect Tense

Pronouns / Nouns

Examples

I

I have worked as a teacher for two years.

You

You have worked as a teacher for two years.

We

We have worked as teachers for two years.

He

He has worked as a teacher for two years.

She

She has worked as a teacher for two years.

They

They have worked as teachers for two years.

It

It has been here the whole time.

Singular noun

Michael has worked as a teacher for two years.

Plural noun

Devika and Priscilla have worked as teachers for two years.

Check Your Understanding of the Present Perfect Tense

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate form of the present perfect tense in the following sentences:

1. We ___________ (find – negative) it yet.

2. Venu and Parvati ____________ (invited) all their friends for today’s party.

3. Shashi _________ (sleep – negative) all night.

4. ________ he _________ (finish) his work?

5. It ___________ (be – negative) the same ever since you left.

6. They __________ (buy) a 2BHK flat.

7. You ___________ (come) to the right place.

8. _______ you ever ________ (be) to Malaysia?

9. Do you know why she __________ (like – negative) it?

10. ________ you _________ (hear) about the new education policies?

Check if you have used the right form of the tense from the following sentences.

1. We have not found it yet.

2. Venu and Parvati have invited all their friends for today’s party.

3. Shashi has not slept all night.

4. Has he finished his work?

5. It has not been the same ever since you left.

6. They have bought a 2BHK flat.

7. You have come to the right place.

8. Have you ever been to Malaysia?

9. Do you know why she has not liked it?

10. Have you heard about the new education policies?

Frequently Asked Questions on the Present Perfect Tense

What is the present perfect tense?

The present perfect tense is employed in a sentence to represent an action that just happened in the recent past and still has its effect in the present or an action that represents an indefinite time in the past.

What is the definition of the present perfect tense?

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines the present perfect tense as “the form of a verb that expresses an action done in a time period up to the present, formed in English with the present tense of ‘have’ and the ‘past participle’ of the verb, as in I have eaten.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the present perfect tense is defined as “the form of the verb used for actions or events that have been completed or have happened in a period of time up to now.”

What is the formula of the present perfect tense?

The general formula of the present perfect tense is as described below:
Subject + have/has + past participle + the rest of the sentence

What are the rules to be followed when using the present perfect tense?

The point that you should keep in mind when using the present perfect tense is that it has two verbs – a helping verb and a main verb. ‘Have’ and ‘has’ are the two helping verbs that are used. This is followed by the main verb which appears in its past participle form.

Give some examples of the present perfect tense form.

Given below are a few examples of sentences using the present perfect form of the verb.

  • Veena has not reached home yet.
  • All the children have finished their assignments.
  • Rinita has eaten all the mangoes.
  • I have not watched the movie yet.
  • Has she still not gone to the hospital?

What are the uses of the present perfect tense?

The present perfect tense can be used

  • To denote an action or event that happened or started in the past and still has its impact or some connection to the subject in the present.
  • To indicate an action that happened in the past and continues to occur in the present.
  • To connect the events of the present to the events that happened in the past.

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