El Present Perfect es una combinación de presente y pasado, es decir, expresa acciones ocurridas en el pasado que continúan teniendo relevancia en el presente. Su estructura es sencilla, como ejemplo citamos tres piezas musicales que utilizan este tiempo verbal en su letra:
• Frases afirmativas: sujeto + Presente verbo auxiliar (to have) + Participio Pasado del verbo. (Eva Cassidy: “You’ve changed”).
• Frases negativas: sujeto + Presente verbo auxiliar (to have) + not + Participio Pasado del verbo. (U2: “Still haven’t found what I’m looking for”).
• Frases interrogativas: Presente verbo auxiliar (to have) + sujeto + Participio Pasado del verbo…? (Bryan Adams: Have you ever really loved a woman?).
Con esto como base, damos paso al contenido gramatical propiamente dicho: The Present Perfect.
This week’s blog is about the present perfect tense. The reason I have decided to talk about this tense is because I find that students often make mistakes when using it and sometimes don’t use it when they should.
Before I talk about its different uses, it is important to know how we form the present perfect tense. We form this tense by using the word ‘have’ and a past participle. For example we say “I have eaten two sandwiches today”. Here we can see the word ‘have’ and the past participle of the verb to eat, which is ‘eaten’.
We use the present perfect tense when the action is finished but the time is not finished. For example, if we say “he has played football this week”, it means that he isn’t playing football now, but he did play it at some time this week. The action is finished but this week is still in progress, therefore we use the present perfect and not the past simple. If we say “we have been to the cinema today”, it means that we aren’t at the cinema now but because today is not finished we use the present perfect and not the past simple.
We also use the present perfect to talk about our experiences. For example if we say “I have studied Spanish”, it means that I have the experience of studying Spanish. If we say “they have been to Barcelona”, it means that they have the experience of being in Barcelona. We don’t say “they were in Barcelona”, because we are speaking about their experiences. If we use the past simple tense, we are referring to an action that happened at a specific time in the past. For example if I say “I ate crisps for lunch”, it means that the action and the time are both finished. I am referring to an action that happened at a specific time in the past, but I am not talking about an experience.
We also use the present perfect to talk about the duration of an action up to now. For example, “I have been here for twenty minutes” means that I came here twenty minutes ago and I am still here now. If we say “she has lived in this city for four weeks” it means that she came here to live four weeks ago and she is still living here now. If we say “you have watched television for two hours”, it means that you started watching television two hours ago and you are still watching television now.Either of these explanations could potentially describe the origin of this phrase.
We also use the present perfect to speak about the result now of a past action. For example if we say “everyone has left the room” it means that the room is empty now. The result now is that there is nobody in the room, because they left in the past. If we say “I have become tired” it means that I am tired now because of what I was doing earlier, maybe it was working or doing exercise, but as a result of those things I am tired now.
The most important thing is to know how to form the present perfect tense and when to use it. We use the present perfect tense when the action is finished but the time is not finished, when we are speaking about experiences, when we are speaking about the duration of an action up to now and when we are speaking about the result now of a past action.
I have explained the different uses of the present perfect tense and now you should practise them.
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- “Easily Confused Words (Third Part)”
- “The use of the present simple”
- “The Past Simple and The Past Continuous”
- “The Emphatic Do”