The perfect tenses are usually misunderstood and it’s very common to find students who are traumatized by them. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. The perfect tenses are beautiful and easy to understand, believe me. You just have to pay attention to the usage and open your mind to them. They are also very common in songs, as you will soon see.
But let’s check on the Present Perfect first:
We use the Present Perfect to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact time is not important.
You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc.
We CAN use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc.
The action is always more important than WHEN it happened. Have a look at some examples:
* I’ve (I have) travelled to England.
* They have already seen that film many times.
* John has studied four different languages.
* Emily Brontë has written Wuthering Heights.
In all the sentences above, the important is the fact, rather than the time when it happened. Only the information is relevant here.
However, this does not mean that we don’t use time expressions with the Present Perfect. Remember: we use the Present Perfect when something has happened at some point in our lives before now, and the exact time the action happened is not important, but sometimes, when we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience, some time expressions may be used, such as: in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now, etc.
We can also use the Present Perfect to express something that started in the past and has continued up until now. For and since are used in these situations.
Look at the examples below:
* Sarah has lived in New York for 2 years.
* She has been in the United States for 8 months.
* Mary and her brother have travelled a lot since they were kids.
Key Words of Present Perfect:
up to now
HAVE/HAS + main verb (participle)
* I have lost my key.
contracted form: I’ve lost my key.
negative: I have not (haven’t) lost my key.
interrogative: Have I lost my key?
* He has been in love with Anne for quite some time.
contracted form: He’s been in love with Anne for quite some time.
negative: He has not (hasn’t) been in love with Anne for quite some some.
interrogative: Has he been in love with Anne for quite some time?
Have/Has can only be used in the negative form in the Perfect tenses:
* We have not (haven’t) talked to her since her mother died. (Present Perfect)
* I don’t have a cat. (Present Simple)
Now, let’s practice, shall we?
Wanna have some fun, now? Check this out!
Have you ever really loved a woman? – Bryan Adams (for Don Juan de Marco’s soundtrack – with Johnny Depp)