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The Present Perfect Tense (#2), by Dennis Oliver

 

The Present Perfect Tense #2

 

 

The present perfect tense is very common in English.
Its form is easy to understand, but its uses are not so
easy--because there are several quite different ones.


Present Perfect Tense: Use (#1)

 


The most common use of the present tense is the one that
most students of English already know: showing an action
that began in the past and that is still happening now.

This use of the present perfect tense is very common with
since and for--which show when the action or situation
began (since) or the length of the action or situation (for).

Examples:

I have lived in Phoenix since August, 1990.
I have lived in Phoenix for almost 11 years.
(I live in Phoenix now. I moved here in August, 1990.)

They have been here for two days.
They have been here since April 15th.
(They're here now. They came here two days ago.)

He has had his new car since last Tuesday.
He has had his new car for exactly one week.
(He has a new car. He bought it last Tuesday.)

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Special Notes:

1.

  Time expressions with since show when
the situation or action began; specific
past times are used. "Since August, 1990"
means 'since a specific time in August, 1990'
(which is past) and "since last Tuesday"
means 'since a specific time last Tuesday'
(which is also past).
     

2.

 

Time expressions with for show the length
of the situation or action--or how long the
action or situation continued. These time
expressions show periods of time. Use for
with periods of time, not with specific times:

not this: I have lived in Phoenix *since
nine years.

but this: I have lived in Phoenix for nine years.

not this: They have been here *since two days.

but this: They have been here for two days.

     

3.

 

Periods of time can be shown with or
without for:

I've lived in Phoenix for nine years. /
I've lived in Phoenix nine years.

They've been here for two days. /
They've been here two days.

He's had his car for exactly one week. /
He's had his car exactly one week.

     

4.

 

Some verbs are "one time" verbs: they
cannot usually be used to show an action
or situation that continued:

not this: I have *moved to Phoenix
for 10 years.

but this: I have lived in Phoenix for 10 years.

not this: He has bought his new car
since last Tuesday.

but this: He has had (or owned) his new car
since last Tuesday.

In the examples above, move and buy are
"one time" verbs: the action or situation that
they describe did not continue. In the situations
above, the "one time" verbs should be past
tense, not present perfect tense. Also, in order
to show the action that continued, a different
verb is needed.


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Next: more about "one-time verbs"
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