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Time Expressions with Present Perfect
When we use the Present Perfect it means that something has happened at some point in our lives before now. Remember, the exact time the action happened is not important.
Sometimes, we want to limit the time we are looking in for an experience. We can do this with expressions such as: in the last week, in the last year, this week, this month, so far, up to now, etc.
· Have you been to Mexico in the last year?
· I have seen that movie six times in the last month.
· They have had three tests in the last week.
· She graduated from university less than three years ago. She has worked for three different companies so far.
· My car has broken down three times this week.
"Last year" and "in the last year" are very different in meaning. "Last year" means the year before now, and it is considered a specific time which requires Simple Past. "In the last year" means from 365 days ago until now. It is not considered a specific time, so it requires Present Perfect.
· I went to Mexico last year.
· I have been to Mexico in the last year.
USE 2 Duration From the Past Until Now (Non-Continuous Verbs)
With Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, we use the Present Perfect to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect.
· I have had a cold for two weeks.
· She has been in England for six months.
· Mary has loved chocolate since she was a little girl.
Although the above use of Present Perfect is normally limited to Non-Continuous Verbs and non-continuous uses of Mixed Verbs, the words "live," "work," "teach," and "study" are sometimes used in this way even though they are NOT Non-Continuous Verbs.
The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.
· You have only seen that movie one time.
· Have you only seen that movie one time?
Present Perfect Continuous
[has/have + been + present participle]
· You have been waiting here for two hours.
· Have you been waiting here for two hours?
· You have not been waiting here for two hours.
Complete List of Present Perfect Continuous Forms
USE 1 Duration from the Past Until Now
We use the Present Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect Continuous.
· They have been talking for the last hour.
· She has been working at that company for three years.
· What have you been doing for the last 30 minutes?
· James has been teaching at the university since June.
· We have been waitinghere for over two hours!
· Why has Nancy not been taking her medicine for the last three days?
USE 2 Recently, Lately
You can also use the Present Perfect Continuous WITHOUT a duration such as "for two weeks." Without the duration, the tense has a more general meaning of "lately." We often use the words "lately" or "recently" to emphasize this meaning.
· Recently, I have been feeling really tired.
· She has been watching too much television lately.
· Have you been exercising lately?
· Mary has been feeling a little depressed.
· Lisa has not been practicing her English.
· What have you been doing?
Remember that the Present Perfect Continuous has the meaning of "lately" or "recently." If you use the Present Perfect Continuous in a question such as "Have you been feeling alright?", it can suggest that the person looks sick or unhealthy. A question such as "Have you been smoking?" can suggest that you smell the smoke on the person. Using this tense in a question suggests you can see, smell, hear or feel the results of the action. It is possible to insult someone by using this tense incorrectly.
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