This lesson is part of the series on Verbs in English:
- Simple Past Verb Tense (Grammar + Pronunciation)
- Present Perfect Verb Tense (Grammar + Pronunciation)
- Present Perfect Continuous Verb Tense (Grammar + Pronunciation)
- Past Perfect Verb Tense (Grammar + Pronunciation)
- Future Verb Tense: “will”, “going to”, “gonna” (Grammar + Pronunciation)
Listen to the audio:
…or watch the video!:
English has several ways to talk about the past. Most commonly, we use two verb tenses. The:
- simple past verb tense; or
- present perfect verb tense.
Simple Past Verb Tense
We use the simple past verb tense when we talk about:
- a past action that
- started and ended.
These simple past verbs typically (though not always) have an -ed ending.
- “I walked to school today.”
Here, I used the simple past verb “walked” because the action of “walking to school” had a distinct beginning and end.
However, what if I had said…
- “I have walked to school before.”
Here, the listener doesn’t know exactly when I walked to school. It was just some time in the general past. It could have been last week or it could have been two years ago!
Rule: Present Perfect Verb Tense
We use the present perfect verb tense instead of the simple past when:
- we talk about something that happened in a non-specific, general time in the past; and
- this action may have some connection, continuation or significance to the present.
To form the present perfect verb tense, use the present tense of “have”:
[have/has] + [negative] + [past participle of verb]
- “He has developed several mobile apps already.”
Note that when speaking, Native English speakers will often de-stress (delete the “h” in) or contract the verb “have” or “has” and attach it to the subject before it to speak with greater efficiency and music.
How to Contract and De-stress the Verb “Have” or “Has”
- “I have” –> “I’ve” or [aiyəv]
- “You have” –> “you’ve” or [yuwəv]
- “He has” –> “he’s” or [hiyəz]
- “She has” –> “she’s” or [ʃiyəz]
- “It has” –> “it’s” or [ɪtəz]
- “We have” –> “we’ve” or [wiyəv]
- “They have” –> “they’ve” or [ðeyəv]
Notice that the present perfect verb tense is often used with the time words, “already”, “yet”, “still”.
Listen and Repeat
- “I have never been to New York, but I’ve always wanted to go!”
- “She has always been a good student.”
- “We have wanted to buy a new house for a long time.”
- “He has already studied two foreign languages.”
- “They still haven’t interviewed my mother about the new position.”
- “I have worked at this company for 17 years.”
- “Haven’t you done your homework yet?” (Notice how the [t] + [y] –> “ch” [tʃ]).
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