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The present perfect

Helen in the canteen

The uses:

We can use the present perfect to:

1. talk about a past action that has a result in the present:
For example, 'She has gone for a break'. She isn't in the room now because she left the room for her break some time before now.

2. tell recent news:
For example, 'The Prime Minister has died'.

3. talk about a period of time which started in the past and which continues up to the present:
For example, 'It was the easiest bit of photocopying I've ever done.'.

If we refer to the time when Helen and John sat their exam, then we use the past simple.
How did you do in the test?
I failed miserably.

The form:

The present perfect has two parts - the main verb and the auxiliary verb. For information about the form of the present perfect, see language point Episode 18:

Been and gone:

These two verbs are related to the verb 'go'. Both are used in the present perfect but they have different meanings:

She has been to Japan (some time in the her life but she isn't in Japan just now).

They have gone to Japan (and they are still in Japan, they haven't come back yet).

Adverbs of time:

There are some adverbs of time that are commonly used with the present perfect.

Ever - In the entire time from the minute the speaker was born until the present moment
This is the most delicious cake I've ever eaten.

Just - This means it happened recently, not a long time ago
She's just gone for a break.

Never - This means it has not happened, not even once
She's never eaten Polish food.

Already - This emphasises that something has happened before now
She's already made an appointment to see the professor.

The adverb goes between the auxiliary verb and the main verb.

Other time expresssions:

There are some time expressions that are commonly used with the present perfect:

since Christmas/New Year
since breakfast/lunch-time
for a long time/ages
so far
in the last few days/months/years


me recent track record:
my performance or achievements in the last few months or years (note in some regional accents 'me' is used instead of 'my')

to sneak a peek (informal):
to look at something quickly and secretly or furtively

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