The present perfect tells us about the past and the present.
The aircraft has landed means that the aircraft is on the ground now.

The present perfect is the present tense of have + a past participle.

  • I/you/we/they have washed
  • he/she/it has washed

NEGATIVE                                                             QUESTION

I/you/we/they haven’t washed                               have I/you/we/they washed?
he/she/it hasn’t washed                                         has he/she/it washed?

Regular past participles end in ed, e.g. washed, landed, finished. We’ve washed the dishes. Have you opened your letter? The aircraft has landed safely. How many points has Matthew scored? The students haven’t finished their exams.

Irregular forms

  • Some participles are irregular.
  • I’ve made a shopping list.
  • Have you written the letter?
  • We’ve sold our car. I’ve thought about it a lot.
  • She hasn’t drunk her coffee.

There is a present perfect of be and of have.

  • The weather has been awful.
  • I’ve had a lovely time, thank you.


When we use the present perfect, we see things as happening in the past but having a result in the present.

  • We’ve washed the dishes. (They’re clean now.)
  • The aircraft has landed. (It’s on the ground now.)
  • We’ve eaten all the eggs. (There aren’t any left.)
  • They’ve learnt the words. (They know the words.)
  • You’ve broken this watch. (It isn’t working.)


We use the present perfect continuous for an action (waiting). The action happens over a period of time (for twenty minutes). Here the period lasts up to the present – they are still
waiting now.


The present perfect continuous is the present tense of have + been + an ing-form.

  • I/you/we/they have been waiting
  • he/she/it has been waiting

NEGATIVE                                                         QUESTION

I/you/we/they haven’t been waiting                    have I/you/we/they been waiting?

he/she/it hasn’t been waiting                             has he/she/it been waiting?

  • We’ve been standing here for ages. It has been raining all day.
  • Have you been waiting long? Our team hasn’t been doing very well lately.


We use the present perfect continuous for an action over a period of time leading up to the present.

In these examples the action is still going on.

  • We’ve been waiting here for twenty minutes. (We’re waiting now.)
  • Listen. That burglar alarm has been ringing since eight o’clock this morning.

We can use the present perfect continuous to talk about repeated actions up to now.

  • Natasha has been playing the piano since she was four.

We can also use it to talk about an action which ends just before the present.

  • I’ve been swimming. That’s why my hair is wet.

For, since, how long and recently

We can use the present perfect continuous with for and since.

  • My sister has been staying with me for three weeks now.
  • You’ve been playing on that computer since seven o’clock.

We use how long in questions.

  • How long have you been waiting?

Note also recently and lately. These both mean ‘in the last few days or weeks’.

  • I haven’t been feeling very well recently.
  • What have you been doing lately?
Present perfect simple (=perfekt) Present perfect continuous (=perfekt)
I/we/you/they – have done, taught, finished, talked etc.


He/she/it – has done, taught, finished, talked etc.


I/we/you/they – have been doing


He/she/it – has been doing

The verb in present perfect ends in –ed for regular verbs, such as walked, talked, biked etc.  But…

Not for verbs that are irregular, such as: taught, drove, wrote, saw, went, shut. For more irregular verbs see p. 292.




When do we use this verb form?

1.    For new information.

(Example: There has been as accident).

2.    When there is a connection with the now. The action in the past has a result now (Example: Where’s your key? I don’t know. I have lost it).


Tom is looking for his key. He can’t find it. He has lost his key.


When do we use this verb form?

For an activity that has recently stopped or just stopped.



Is it raining? No, but the ground is wet. It has been raining.

To learn more about verb tenses, please watch the following videos.