I have been meaning to write an entry about the use of the present perfect in English for a long time. Finally I came across the video below which summarizes both the main uses and problems learners may find in using this tense.

The teacher on the video refers to two general uses of the present perfect:

1) When we talk about a finished action in a general way and we do not give a specific time, we don’t say when the action happened, although the action is connected to the present somehow. In this use the present perfect is used to talk about changes, to give news, to talk about experiences, to refer to things we have completed. This use of the present perfect in English is similar to the present perfect in Spanish.

2) When we refer to actions or situations which started in the past and continue up to now (3’ 52” on the video). This use is completely different in Spanish, as we tend to use a present simple + gerund structure.

The teacher also draws our attention to the use of adverbials, which may help us to know when to use the present perfect or the past simple and, consequently, avoid mistakes.

Typical expressions with present perfect are recently, lately, many times, several times, often, sometimes, just, ever? never, already, yet, for andsince.

With present perfect you cannot use specific time expressions that say when something happened: last month/week/year, ago, when (I was a child), during my childhood, yesterday, at 10, on Monday, in 2001. With specific time expressions we use the past simple.

These interactive activities will help you to discriminate between both verb tenses. Do them in order and hopefully you won´t have any problems with them in the future!


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