Posted by: Idioma Extra | June 8, 2011

Thursday Tidbits

Different Contexts using the Present Perfect

Many English language learners are familiar with the structure of the present perfect. However, it is often misused in speaking. Here are some of the different contexts in which the present perfect is used.

Non-specific moment

The simple past is used to describe actions in the past with specific time reference (yesterday, last weekend, last year, etc.) However, the present perfect is used to describe NON-specific moments in the past, meaning, the time of the event or action isn’t important. Here are some examples:

He has traveled to Europe before.

They have finished the project.

My little brother has eaten all the pizza.

Multiple times

Another context for the present perfect is when talking about something you’ve done multiple times (it doesn’t matter if it is many or a few). Here are some examples:

I have seen the Matrix 12 times.

We have been to that restaurant a lot.

She has traveled to China several times.

Past to present

The present perfect is also used to describe things that started in the past and continue into the present. For or since are always used when speaking in this context. Here are some examples:

I have worked at my job for 5 years.

She has been awake since 6am.

People have enjoyed Shakespeare plays for centuries.

*Remember, for is used to describe the length of time (years, months, hours, etc.) while since refers to a specific time (1980, last month, 6am).


Finally, the present perfect is used to describe things you have never done before. Never goes between the auxiliary verb have and the participle verb. Here are some examples:

I have never gone bungie jumping before.

He has never tried sushi.

We have never been there.

Check Yourself

Look at the following sentences and decide what is the correct context being used (NS-Non-specific, MT-Multiple times, PP-Past to present, N-Never). Write the context in the space after the sentence.

1. I have gone windsurfing many times. ___

2. She has been the president for a long time. ___

3. The students have finished their homework. ___

4. I have never heard that before. ___

5. The basketball player has broken his leg. ___

6. The computer hasn’t worked since yesterday. ___

7. They have worked together on many occasions. ___

8. He has had problems with his neighbor. ___

9. She has been asleep for an hour or so. ___

10. They haven’t completed construction yet. ___

Answers to last week’s Check Yourself

Look at the following statements or questions and decide what the correct context is. (PD-prediction, PM-promise, T- threat, PO/R-polite offers/requests, SC-strong commands.

1. I think it will rain soon. _PD_

2. Will you help me with my homework? _PO/R_

3. You will regret it if you do it. _T_

4. I will meet you at Soda Tapia at 7pm. _PM_

5. Will you stop doing that! _SC_

6. You will miss the opportunity if you don’t do it now. _PD_

7. The country will suffer if no one sends help. _PD_

8. Will you turn down the music please? _PO/R_

9. Will you give me a chance! _SC_

10. I think they will lose the game. _PD_


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