The present simple, past simple and the future tenses in the English language are relatively similar in use to those in many other languages. However, although the present perfect tense may be used in the grammar of languages other than English, its usage typically differs from the use of this tense in the English language.
Use the present perfect tense when you need to show that something in the past has a direct connection to or result in the present time. The "when" isn't important. The "what" is.
Structure sentences in the present perfect in this formation: "Subject + have + 3rd form verb" or "Subject + has + 3rd form verb." Here are two examples: "I have been married for 10 years." "She has just cut herself."
Indicate the time that an activity or state started by using with the word "since" with the present perfect tense. Here are two examples: "I have not seen Jane since October." "He has been studying since midnight."
Specify a period of time that an activity or state lasted by using the word "for" when using the present perfect tense. Here are two examples: "The pain has lasted for two hours." "They have owned their home for about a year."
Use just, already and yet with the present perfect tense. Use "just" to indicate "a short time ago." Use "already" to indicate that something happened sooner than expected. Use "yet" in negative sentences as well as questions to indicate something that is expected to happen.
Combine the past participle with "have" and "has" to make the present perfect tense (past participle + have or has = the present perfect). For example: "He has lost his watch." "They have taken a taxi."
Do not use exact time expressions with the present perfect tense. For example, do not say: "I am married for three years," but rather: "I have been married for three years." Instead of saying: "He has done his homework yesterday," you should rather say: "He has had his homework done since yesterday."
Don't be shy about experimenting. Practice makes present perfect.
- The word "for" is also used in other tenses, for example: "I have worked for 12 hours."
- British English is much more liberal about use of the present perfect than American English.
- Author - wowaco, image courtesy of StockXchange, under the StockXchange license