Hello, could any please explain me the Present Perfect tense? I tried numerous of different web pages, but none of them helped.. I only understand that Present Perfect is used with 'never' and 'ever' (I've never seen that before/ Have you ever seen that before?), since and for(I've been living here since 1995/ I've been living here for 20 years(does this mean that I've been living and still am, or I lived there for 20 years and now I live somewhere else) ). That's pretty much where my knowledge ends... I don't really get when to use Past Perfect either... Help please.
Good afternoon, 1337.
(1) You are absolutely correct: the present perfect IS difficult to
completely understand -- even for many of us ordinary native speakers.
(2) For example, I live in a big American city. I have lived here since the 1940's. (Yes, I said 1940's!!!)
I could also say "I have been living here since the 1940's," but some
native speakers feel that it's better to use the -ing for a more temporary
or shorter period:
(a) For example, if you come to the United States to study, you might say:
I have been living in the United States for six months, and it has been a very interesting experience. When I return home next month, I'll have many interesting experiences to share with my family and friends.
(3) Maybe (only maybe) this dialogue will give you a taste of the present perfect:
YOU: What book are you reading?
YOUR FRIEND: I'm reading War and Peace, a great Russian novel. HAVE you READ it? (Your friend would not ask: DID you READ it? S/he is not referring to specific period in the past. S/he wants to know whether you have read this book at any time in the past right up to this moment.)
YOU: Yes, I have (read this book). (Again, you do not use the past. You are not referring to a specific period. You just want him/her to know at some time in the past you did indeed read the book and you are now telling him at this present time. Many teachers explain that the present perfect = something happened in the past and still "touches" the present. In your mind, you consider the action as belonging to both past & present:
I have lived in country X all my life.
I have loved that singer's music ever since I first heard him/her.
I have eaten French food all my life.
S/he has been my best friend ever since elementary school.
YOU: Have you read War and Peace?
AN OLD MAN LIKE ME: What's the title?
YOU: War and Peace. It's a great Russian novel. I'm reading it now.
OLD MAN: It sounds familiar. Come to think of it, I think that I did read it when I was much younger. (The old man did not use the present perfect because the reading was definitely something that belonged to the past. For the old man, it has no "connection" to the present.)
Have a nice day! (P. S. The truth is: I have never read that novel. I use the present perfect because as long as I am still alive, there is always the possibility that I will read it.)