We are all acquainted with the three main tenses, the past tense, present tense, and future tense. They try to denote a time period when a verb or an action occurred, is occurring, or will occur in the future. They communicate an event’s place in time.
However, these three tenses are not that simple. In English, each of these main tenses has four different aspects that indicate time behavior in different forms. Today’s topic, present perfect tense, is one such aspect that belongs to the family of present tense. In a very general sense, we can define the present perfect tense as the aspect that connects the past to the present.
But this tense is the trickiest one amongst the three others. If you are not thorough with the concept, mistakes are sure to happen. So, let’s get into a detailed discussion with some proper examples.
What is present perfect tense?
Amongst all tenses and aspects, the present perfect tense is most likely to get you in trouble. It has a bit complicated concept, and more importantly, its uses and practice can be puzzling. So, let us start with a basic definition.
The present perfect tense is a type of tense usually used to connect the past and the present concerning an action. Something that began in the past and is still continuing in the present. That means it refers to a verb or an action that occurred in an indefinite time in the past.
In simple words, the present perfect tense is used when we are referring to a life experience or action that happened in the past, but its results are still relevant to now. The main point is that we never use a finished time. The time of the verb is usually unspecified, and the emphasis is more on the output than the action itself.
Forming a present perfect tense is straightforward. But a little different from that of the other tenses.
Here, the main element is the auxiliary verb have. However, it depends on the person we refer to. For first and second person, we use have. And for third person, we use has. This auxiliary verb is then followed by the past participle of the main verb.
The past participle of the main verb means the regular verbs are used in their past form. In the past form, the verbs end with –d or –ed. For instance, played, jumped, walked, etc. However, irregular verbs have their own unique past participles.
So, the structure of the present perfect sentence consists of have/has, followed by the past participle.
Let us look at some examples.
- I have been to Delhi.
- He has written the poem.
- You have walked this street before.
- You have been to Pune.
Furthermore, the present perfect can also form negative and question sentences.
To negate the sentence, we simply use not after the auxiliary verb, have. After that, the main verb follows.
- I haven’t been to the USA.
- She hasn’t been to the USA.
And for the question sentence, we position the auxiliary verb at the beginning of the sentence. And then, the subject and the verb follow.
- Have you been to Assam?
- Has she completed her task?
Let us briefly learn some of the common uses.
It is used to express.
- Life experience without referring to a specific time.
- A finished action that has a present result.
- A recent action used with just, yet, already, etc.
These are the basic points that will help you make correct use of perfect tenses. Although tricky, they are not impossible to learn.