Grammar Rules: Present Perfect Tense

Written by Leny Ortega
Like simple tenses, perfect or sometimes called compound tenses have three categories namely: Present Perfect, Past Perfect, and Future Perfect. Each of these has a corresponding usage depending on the time of action is completed or intended to be done.


Present Perfect Tense is used to express an action happened at an unspecific time before now. The exact time is not important.  Unlike the simple past tense, the action is done at a particular time. Hence, time expression such as yesterday, last month, etc. must be stated. The only time expressions accepted in this tense are: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc.

FORM: for singular subject =Has + past participle of the given verb
                For plural subject   = Have + past participle of the given verb

Example 1: I have seen the movie Serendipity more than ten times.
Present perfect tense is also used to talk about change that has happened over a period of time.

Example 2: My English has improved since I migrated to America.
We also use the present perfect tense of the verb to tell an action that began in the past but continues up to the present.

Example 3: I have been in Japan since October.

Exercise: Choose the correct form of the present perfect tense in the following sentences.

  1. My friend Claire (has been, have been, was) in England for six months.
  2. Many policemen (have died, has died, died) in the Mindanao siege.
  3. The army (has attacked, have attacked, attacked) that city five times.
  4. The principal (has been, have been, was) in the meeting since this morning.
  5. The baby (has grown, have grown, grew) so fast!


1.) The correct answer to this number is Has been for the following reasons: first, the subject, Claire is singular that is why we use HAS not HAVE. Second, the exact time she moved to England was not stated. But, the action began six months ago and until now she is still in England.

2.) The answer here is Have died. The subject is plural (policemen) therefore, have must be used together with the past participle of the verb die. We cannot use the simple past tense here (died) because the specific time is not mentioned.

3.) The answer is has attacked. Again, there is no specific time when the attacked happened. But the idea here is that from the first time the city was attacked until now it happened only six times.

4.) The correct answer is Has been. The subject (principal) is singular so, has been is used. This sentence means that the meeting started in the morning until the time of speaking the meeting is still on-going.

5.) The sentence tells us that the change happened for a period of time (but unspecified).

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