Presenting: The Present Perfect!

It’s back!

This sometimes Friday feature examines language quirks and oddities. As I am currently teaching English to international students, I’ve had a lot of exposure to the sometimes random nature of this language.

Present perfect
What a crazy tense this one is. It is among the distinctions of the English language that we have this cool tense. It represents an action that began in the past, and continues right now. It also refers to an action that began in the past and may – or may not – be continued in the present or near future.

I have been to France = I went to France, and I may go again. My life isn’t over yet!
He has eaten breakfast = he just completed it, and we’re still thinking about it right now. I think he’s still wiping the toast crumbs off his face.
Have we got enough money? = We want to do a thing and need to know before we get started.
They haven’t paid = They need to pay right now!

Notice the subtle differences:
I went to France = I went one time and I can tell you about it, but that chapter has closed.
He ate breakfast = so what?
Did we have enough money? = Who cares, it’s over now
They paid = Again, nothing to see here

The present perfect gives a vivid, active connection to the present. That tense enlivens our conversations, and gives our language additional life, vigor, and immediacy.

Next week: More fun English language tenses

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One Response to “Presenting: The Present Perfect!”

  1. Gene says:

    How come high school English classes weren’t as fun as this? I’ll bet you are a wonderful (and very patient) ESL teacher.