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How and when to use them.

The present perfect is used to refer to actions which take place in an unfinished time period up to the time of speaking, and allows the speaker to link past actions or situations to the present time.
  • Continuous form :
    •  Actions started in the past which continue until now.
      • Pablo has been revising his English since the beginning of the week.
      • I have been reading this book all morning. It's very interesting.
      • Our neighbour has been painting his house since Monday.

  • Simple form :
    • The completed or finished part of a continuous action.
      •  I have read the first three chapters of the book.
    • Events that have just occurred, with no specific time mentioned.
      • A plane has just crashed near the coast.
    • A past action with a result in the present.
      • I've broken my arm.  I can't drive.
    • Experiences and accomplishments up to now.
      • I'm a writer. I've written 5 novels and several short stories.
If we are already talking about the past, the past perfect is used to to go back to an
earlier past time,to refer to something that had already happened or had been happening.
  • Continuous form :
    • Continuous actions or actions in progress up to a particular time in the past.
      • Paul had been revising his English when the postman rang the doorbell.
      • I had been searching everywhere for my keys when I finally found them.
      • Our neighbour had been painting the shutters when he fell off  the ladder.

  • Simple form  :
    • Completed actions or events which took place before a specific time in the past.
      • When Tom called at 8 am, Paul had already left for school.
      • Amy went to see her mother, but her mother had gone shopping.
      • When Tom arrived home with a pizza, he discovered that Julie had already prepared dinner.

Present Perfect - Past Perfect exercise

more exercises

more about the present perfect more about the past perfect

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