Present Perfect Examples Explained

Can you see examples of Present perfect grammar in the cartoon strip below? Find out why we use them in English grammar with explanations below the cartoon.

A Present Perfect Love Story


One very common reason for using present perfect (and NOT the past simple tense) is to describe something that happened in the past, but WITHOUT SAYING WHEN THAT ACTION HAPPENED. Let me explain that again a different way. 🙂 We use the present perfect when we are thinking about something that happened or started in the PAST and that TIME PERIOD CONTINUES UP TO NOW, but we do not mention the time when the thing started.

Present Perfect Examples

1. Why haven’t I met the man of my dreams yet? She is thinking about the start of her search for a boyfriend (whenever that search started – she doesn’t say the exact time) and all the time period up to now. In other words, at the moment, she does not think that she has found a good man and she is asking ‘Why not?’     2. I’ve been such a good girl Presumably she means today, or this week, or in the last few weeks, or even in the last few years. She is thinking about the past and the present together… but she doesn’t say when this unbroken time period began.     3. I’ve made my bed Again, she presumably means today, but she doesn’t say when that happened. However, we can see that her bed is still made, or in other words, ‘tidy’. If she said exactly WHEN she made her bed, then it’s normal to use PAST SIMPLE Ex: I made my bed this morning / at 9am / when I got up     4. I haven’t watched any TV Did she say when the time period started? No. So she uses the present perfect. Compare this with Past Simple where you DO normally say the time. Ex: I didn’t watch any TV last night / yesterday / on Thursday     5. I’ve taken care of my body She’s thinking about some time in the past when she started doing exercise and eating well, but she hasn’t told us the exact moment when that started. This exercising and good eating regime is continuing up to the present moment though. Look. Here body is still in good shape now. Compare this to past simple where you say when the time ban or finished… Ex: I took good care of my body when I was a teenager / a young girl / in first year at school All of these time periods are FINISHED in the speaker’s opinion. The speaker is NOT thinking about the past AND the present together any more. This implies that the “taking good care of the body” has finished!     6. Maybe I’ve had a tiny bit too much to eat today In Thelma’s opinion, TODAY IS NOT FINISHED, IT IS STILL CONTINUING. When the time period is not finished/over then she has the possibilty to eat more food today for example. FINISHED TIME PERIOD = PAST SIMPLE TIME PERIOD CONTINUING = PRESENT PERFECT I had too much to eat last night / yesterday / on my summer holiday (Past Simple) I’ve had too much to eat today / this morning / this week (Present Perfect)     7. I’ve joined an online dating agency At some time in the past (we don’t know when) she joined the dating agency. Now, she is still a member of the dating agency. There is an unbroken line of time between the past and now. We just don’t know when the past action (joining the agency) started. Compare this with a past simple version of the sentence with the exact time stated clearly. Ex: I joined a dating agency yesterday / last Monday / in August     8. I’ve found him She found her boyfriend at some point in the past (which she didn’t mention) and she still has him right there next to her. She’s thinking about the past and all the time continuing from that point up to the present moment NOW. Compare the Present Perfect v Past Simple…

Past Simple = time is clearly stated

I found him yesterday / on Monday / at the weekend

Present Perfect = time is not mentioned

I’ve found him   You might like our other Present Perfect blogs in this series… 1. Infographic 2. Jack The Ripper

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