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Present Perfect Simple- Rules and exercises for intermediate level

Friday, 04 September 2009
Example of present perfect simple: I have lived in Paris Example of present perfect simple: I have lived in Paris This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license

An overview of the present perfect simple tense explains what rules you need to follow when using this tense, with examples and exercises to help you learn. This online lesson in English grammar is designed for intermediate students.

Form of the present perfect simple

The present perfect simple is formed by have/has + past participle.

Present perfect simple: positive and negative







lived in Paris




Present perfect simple: question

How long have





known Paul?

How long has

she / he

Present perfect simple: short answer

Have you always worked in Paris?

Yes, I have.

No, I haven't.

Use of the present perfect simple

We use the present perfect simple to connect the past with the present. The present perfect simple expresses:

1) a 'state' (permanent action) that began in the past and still continues in the present (unfinished past). Using the present perfect in this way we are interested most in the duration of the permanent action.

  • They have lived in the same street for 10 years.
  • Frank has worked in a restaurant for 9 months.
  • We've been colleagues since 2002.
  • How long have you been married?

Present perfect simple: be careful!

These time expressions are common with this use:


five years

two months

a few minutes

quarter of an hour




the end of the year


9 o'clock


We use 'for' with a period of time and 'since' with a point in time.

2) an action where we are interested in how many times this action has been done starting at some point in the past up until the present.

  • J.K.Rowling has written seven Harry Potter novels since 1997.
  • Mary has sent 36 emails this morning (it is still morning).
  • Madonna has had 12 hits in the U.K. in 13 years.
  • A.- How many times have you been to the cinema this month?
    B.- I've been once.

Present perfect simple: be careful!


five years

two months

a quarter of an hour




the end of the year


9 o'clock


We can use 'in' for a period of time and 'since' for a point in time.
N.B. with 'last' and 'this' we don't use 'in'

Explanation - Part 2

3) an experience or event that happened at some time in one's life. When the action happened is not important, in fact the time 'when' is not specified. The experience or event is completed and finished in the past but the effects of the action are still felt i.e. the person is still alive.

  • She's been to Jerusalem (she still remembers).
  • I've had two operations since now (at any time in my life up to now).
  • Have you ever tried gulash? (in your whole life, up to now).
  • My brother has never seen the Gran Canyon (since he was born, up to now).
  • Lisa has seen 'Back to the future' a thousand times ( in her life up until now).

When we ask a question using the present perfect the answer can be at the present perfect tense if it's a short reply.
If we want to go on and specify when the event happened, we have to use the past simple.

  • A - Have they ever visited the National Gallery ?
    B - No, they haven't (short reply).
  • A - Have you ever been to Australia?
    B - Yes, I have. I went to Australia in August (a specific moment in the past).

4) a past action that has a present result. The present perfect is a present tense, it always tells us something about now. The action is usually in the recent past.

  • Carl has lost his wallet (he doesn't have his wallet now).
  • I've cut myself with a knife (and now I'm bleeding).
  • She has won a billion dollars on the lottery (present result: she's rich now).
  • John has walked up to the mountain (present result: he's now at the top of the mountain).
  • They have been to the supermarket (they probably bought something).
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published in Present Perfect Tense
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Last modified on Sunday, 05 February 2017 22:20

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