English Grammar Course Unit 14: Present perfect Tense (I have done) (2)

Why should you study this unit?

In this unit, we will talk about the present perfect. It means something that holds good up to the present moment. So the fact that you have never performed a song or a dance on stage is true till now. While you might take to the stage some day, as of today you haven’t. Similarly you may have never watched movies because you don’t like  to and if that is true even now, it is called the present perfect.

Read on to learn more about the present perfect.

A. Study this example conversation:

  • George:Have you traveled a lot, James?
  • James: Yes,I’ve been to 47 different countries.
  • George: Really?Have you ever been to China?

James: Yes, I’ve visited China twice.

  • George: What about India?
  • James: No,I’ve never been to India

When we talk about a period of time that continues up to the present, we use the present perfect. Jane and Dave are talking about the places Jane has visited in her life (which is a period continuing up to the present).

Here are some more examples:

  • Have you read Romeo and Juliet?” “No, I haven’t read any of Shakespeare’s plays.”
  • How many times have you been to the Japan?
  • Susan really loves that movie. She’s seen it eight times.
  • Carlos has lived in Tokyo all his life. (or Carlos has always lived in Tokyo.)

We often use ever and never with the present perfect:

  • Have you ever eaten fruit cake?
  • We have never had a car.

We often use the present perfect after a superlative (see D of Unit 100):

  • What a boring movie! It’s the most boring movie I’ve ever seen. 

B. You have to use the present perfect with This is the first time … , It’s the first time … ,etc. Study this example situation:

John is driving a car. He is very nervous and unsure because it’s his first time
behind the wheel of a car. You can say:

  • This is the first time he has driven a car. (not drives)
    or: He has never driven a car before.

Here are some more examples:

  • Mary has lost her passport again.It’s the second time she has lost
  • Is this the first time you‘ve been in the hospital?

C. Use the present perfect to say that you have never done something or that you haven’t done something during a period of time that continues up to the present:

  • have never smoked.
  • haven’t smoked for three years. (not I don’t smoke for … )
  • haven’t smoked since September. (not I don’t smoke since … )
  • John hasn’t written to me for nearly a month.
  • John has never driven a car.

For the difference between for and since see section B of Unit 19.

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