Sergey Sulimov


Sergey Sulimov


Present Perfect


The verb systems in Russian and English have many differences. When describing an action that happened recently, in Russian we use the past tense. In English, it can be Past Simple, Present Perfect, or Past Continuous. So what do you choose? Why and in what case do we need to use a specific temporal construction? After reading this article, the English tenses will become a little clearer to you. 

Present Perfect: Two Key Points

There is no equivalent to this time in Russian, so it causes difficulties for students: how time can be present and perfect at the same time. It is not necessary to look for analogues, you just need to understand two key points: the connection with the present and the perfect action result importance. That is, in the Present Perfect (the present perfect tense in English) case, it is the result, which is relevant to the present that is important to you, not the action time.

Present Perfect: basic uses and marker words

1. Completed actions with a result in the present

What is important here is the result and that we see this result now, in the present.

You haven’t done Your work on time and now You have to work overtime. — Вы не закончили работу вовремя, и теперь Вам придется работать сверхурочно (работа не закончена, результат — сверхурочная загруженность).

English marker words will help you: already (уже), yet (еще), just (только что).

I have just seen my aunt outside. — Я только что видел свою тетю на улице.

2. The action has already ended, but the moment still lasts, the present is not over

I have met my friend at the airport this morning. — Я встретил друга в аэропорту сегодня утром (друга я уже встретил — действие совершилось, а утро еще не кончилось).

Here the markers may be such expressions in English as this morning (этим утром), this week (на этой неделе), this year (в этом году), and today (сегодня).

3. Actions that convey personal experience

When you talk about what has and hasn’t happened to you in the past, the most common thing you use in English is Present Perfect. The action timing is not important, only the result matters. Often the markers in this case are the words ever (когда-либо), never (никогда).

Have you ever been to Australia? I have never been to Australia. — Вы когда-нибудь были в Австралии? Я никогда не был в Австралии.

4. Actions began in the past, lasted time a period, and are still going on

Most often in this case, Present Perfect Continuous is used in English, but with state verbs it is preferable to use Present Perfect.

She has known him since childhood. — Она знает его с детства.

With verbs that denote a prolonged action in themselves, you can use both Perfect Continuous and Just Perfect in the Present form. These verbs are to live (жить), to study (учиться), to sleep (спать).

They have studied in London for five years. — Они учились в Лондоне пять лет.

5. The actions have been repeated many times until now

I have written you many letters but you haven’t answered. — Я написал тебе множество писем, но ты не ответила мне.

Again, the marker can help you: It is the first/second time…

It is the first time I have successfully passed the exam. — Это первый раз, как я успешно сдала экзамен.

Present Perfect: how it is formed

To form the present perfect tense in English, you must use the auxiliary verb have or has and the main verb in the third form. The formula looks like this:

Подлежащее + have/has + Past Participle (3 форма смыслового глагола V3/-ed)

I have already been to Mumbai. — Я уже был в Мумбаи.

The auxiliary verb changes depending on the subject: with a singular noun or the pronouns he, she, it is used has, in other cases – have.

The meaningful verb in Present Perfect expresses the main action in the sentence. When it is an irregular verb, look for its third form in the table (unless you remember it by heart, course): freeze — froze — frozen (замерзать), ride — rode — ridden (ехать верхом), sleep — slept — slept (спать). You need just the third form.

I have slept today. — Я сегодня спал.

If it is a regular verb, add the ending -ed to it. The rules for forming and reading -ed in the present perfect tense are similar to those for Past Simple. 

1. Present Perfect: affirmative sentences

To form affirmative sentences, use the above formula.

Подлежащее + have/has + Смысловой глагол V3/-ed

I have met my friend at the airport this morning. — Я встретил друга в аэропорту сегодня утром.

Marker words in the present perfect tense are usually between auxiliary and sense verbs, especially already and just. Lately, recently may stand in the middle as well as at a sentence end. Sometimes already may stand at a sentence end to express surprise:

You have done your homework already! — Ты наконец сделал домашнюю работу!

The before, yet place, as a rule, at a sentence end. It is used only in negative and interrogative sentences, never only in negative sentences, and ever only in questions.

In informal speech it is possible to use the reduced form: I’ve, you’ve, we’ve, they’ve, he’s, she’s, it’s.

We’ve eaten the best cake this evening. — Мы ели лучший пирог этим вечером.

2. Present Perfect: interrogation sentences

To construct a question sentence, you must put the auxiliary verb at the very beginning.

Have/has + Подлежащее + Смысловой глагол V3/-ed

Have you met your friend at the airport this morning? — Ты встретил своего друга в аэропорту сегодня утром?

The answer to this question can be complete, but more often the short form is used:

Yes, I have / No, I haven’t.

If it is a sentence with a question word, then that is what you should put first before the auxiliary verb.

Where have you met your friend this morning? — Где ты встретил друга сегодня утром?

3. Present Perfect: negative sentences

To create a negative sentence, you must add the negative particle not.

Подлежащее + have/has + not + Смысловой глагол V3/-ed

I have not met my friend at the airport this morning. — Я не встретил моего друга в аэропорту сегодня утром.

He hasn’t finished the work yet. — Он еще не закончил работу.

Today you have learned about Present Perfect. Nevertheless, most likely you still have questions and want to go deeper into the topic. It’s better to do it under the EnglishPapa’s professional teachers’ guidance.

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