Present Perfect (I have done)

 Tom is looking for his key. He can’t find it. He has lost his key.

He has lost his key = He lost it recently, and he still doesn’t have it.

Have/has lost is the present perfect simple.

I have (= I’ve, etc.) finished
he/she/it has (= he’s, etc.) lost
we/you/they have (= we’ve, etc.) done

been   etc.

The present perfect simple is have/has + past participle. The past participle often ends in –ed (finished/decided etc.), but many important verbs are irregular (lost/done/written etc.).

When we say that ‘something has happened’, this is usually new information.

  • Ow! I’ve cut my finger.
  • The road is closed. There’s been (there has been) an accident.
  • (from the news) Police have arrested two men in connection with a robbery.

When we use the present perfect, there is a connection with now. The action in the past has a result now:

  • “Where’s your key?”  “I don’t know. I’ve lost it.” (=I don’t have it now)
  • He told me his name, but I’ve forgotten it. (=I can’t remember it now)
  • “Is Sally here?”  “No, she’s gone out.”  (=she is out now)
  • I can’t find my bag. Have you seen it? (=Do you know where it is now?)

Note the difference between gone (to) and been (to):

John is on holiday. He has gone to Italy. (= he is there now or on his way there)

Jody is back home now. She has been to Italy. (= she has now come back)

You can use the present perfect with just, already and yet.

Just = a short time ago

  • “Are you thirsty?”  “No, I’ve just had some water.”
  • Hello. Have you just arrived?

Already = something happened sooner than expected

  • “Don’t forget to pay your phone bill.”  “I’ve already paid it.”
  • “What time is Matt leaving?”  “He’s already left.”

Yet = until now. yet shows that the speaker is expecting something to happen. Use yet only in questions and negative sentences:

  • Has it stopped raining yet?
  • I’ve written the email, but I haven’t sent it yet.

Note: you can also use the past simple (did, went, had etc.) in the examples on this page. So you can say:

  • ‘Is Sally here?’    ‘No, she went out.’    or    ‘No, she’s gone out.’
  • ‘Are you hungry?’    “No, I just had lunch.’  or  ‘No, I’ve just had lunch.’

Practise the present perfect

Read the situations and write sentences. Use the following verbs in the present perfect:

arrive    break    fall    go up    grow    improve    lose

  1. Thomas is looking for his key. He can’t find it.
    Thomas ___________________.
  2. Liza can’t walk and her leg is in a cast.
    Liza ___________________.
  3. Last week the bus fare was €1.80. Now it is €2.
    The bus fare ___________________.
  4. Marina’s English wasn’t very good. Now it is better.
    Her English ___________________.
  5. David didn’t have a beard before. Now he has a beard.
    David ___________________.
  6. This morning I was expecting a letter. Now I have it.
    The letter ___________________.
  7. The temperature was 20 degrees. Now it is only 12.
    The ___________________.

Answers

  1. Thomas has lost his key.
  2. Liza has broken her leg.
  3. The bus fare has gone up.
  4. Her English has improved.
  5. David has grown a beard.
  6. The letter has arrived.
  7. The temperature has fallen.
Put in been or gone.
  1. James is on holiday. He’s gone to Italy.
  2. Hello! I’ve just __________ to the shops. I’ve bought lots of things.
  3. Alice isn’t here at the moment. She’s __________ to the shop to get a newspaper.
  4. Tom has __________ out. He’ll be back in about an hour.
  5. ‘Are you going to the bank?’  ‘No, I’ve already __________ to the bank.’

Answers

  1. gone
  2. been
  3. gone
  4. gone
  5. been

Source: Murphy, R. English Grammar in Use. 4th Ed.

Verb Tenses

Download a chart with all 12 verb tenses and examples.

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