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The present perfect tense

The present perfect tense links the past and the present.

The present perfect tense
I / We have been
She / He has completed
received
You / They have had

It is used to refer to:

  • an action or situation which began in the past and is still current
  • an action or event which took place in the past, where the exact time of the event is not specified or not clear
  • an action or event which has just happened
Examples
  • He has lived here since he was young. (came many years ago, still here)
  • For the past two years she has worked at the stock exchange. (started two years ago, still there)
  • I have been to London, but I haven't been to New York. (at some/any time in my life)
  • Have you found the book you were looking for? (between the time you started looking and now)
  • She has just arrived. (a short time ago; here she is)
  • We have finished the management report! (a short time ago; here it is)

In academic or technical writing the present perfect tense is often used to report on recent research or trends.

Examples
  • Recent studies have shown that more efficient water management will be needed as global warming increases.
  • In the past five years several car manufacturers have developed hybrid vehicles.

Notes

  • Every present perfect verb has two parts:
    1. have/has always in present tense
    2. past participle of the main verb (been, seen, done, found, studied, written, etc.)


  • The following words are often used with the present perfect: since, for, recent, recently, just, ever, yet, already
    1. What word does Sentence 1 use as the present perfect indicator?
    2. What word does Sentence 2 use as the present perfect indicator?

Change each verb to the present perfect form. Then check your answers by clicking on the button Check answers next to each box.

  1. In recent years, the emphasis on sustainability in Civil Engineering (increase) significantly.
  2. Engineers Without Borders is a not-for-profit organisation which (work) in developing countries since 2001.
  3. Few researchers (investigate) the possibility of human-like locomotion in robots.
  4. The Kyoto Protocol (not achieve) the intended results as it has not been ratified by all countries.
  5. Group 1 (complete) the first assignment, but Group 2 (not start)yet.

Past simple or present perfect? Click one of the two forms of the verbs in brackets to select the correct tense. The first two have been done for you.

  1. All samples ( failed / have failed) under the first test condition.
    Reason

    Because we have the results, it is clear that the testing is complete; that is, past and finished.
  2. Recent studies (showed / have shown) that...
    Reason

    It is unclear exactly when the studies were carried out.
  1. Research conducted in the 1990s ( showed / has shown) that...
    Reason

    The 1990s are past and finished.
  2. The studies ( were not completed / have not been completed) yet.
    Reason

    The word 'yet' shows that the timeframe for the studies is not past.
  3. Two years ago, researchers ( demonstrated / have demonstrated) the link between...
    Reason

    'Two years ago' is past and finished.
  4. Over the past six years, there ( were / have been) several exciting developments in the field of mechatronics.
    Reason

    The exact times of the developments are not specified.
  5. Lewis's (2004) investigation ( proved / has proved) the effect of...
    Reason

    The exact year is given.
  6. An investigation ( was carried out / has been carried out) recently into...
    Reason

    'Recently' is the hint.

The following news report, which is an update on a major building project, uses both past simple and present prefect tenses. Write the correct tense of the verb in each gap. Where the passive voice is needed, be is given with the verb in brackets. Then check your answers by clicking on the button Check answers next to each box.

The board of directors of Medway Medical Centre (announce) twelve months ago that an extension block would be built in the grounds beside the existing building. Although funding not yet (be approved), ProTec Engineering (complete) the design. The hospital CEO, Mr Bernard Wilkes, (release) the design at a press conference yesterday.

While the new building is designed to blend aesthetically with the older building, Mr Wilkes (emphasise) yesterday that sustainability was one of the key design criteria. 'Green building technology (be incorporated) at all stages of the design, as we (request) at the beginning of the project.'

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