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Present Perfect

The present perfect tense is common in English. It is used for many different functions. This page will explain the rules for forming the tense with regular and irregular verbs.

Forming the present perfect tense

This tense is formed using two components: the verb HAVE (in the present tense), and the past participle form of a verb. With a regular verb the past participle ends with -ED (just like the simple past). Irregular verbs have a special past participle form that you have to learn. Here are the rules, using the regular verb “arrive” and the irregular verb “eat”:

Subject HAVE Past Participle
I have arrived
eaten
You have arrived
eaten
He has arrived
eaten
She has arrived
eaten
It has arrived
eaten
We have arrived
eaten
They have arrived
eaten

Note that the subject and auxiliary verb may be contracted: for example, “I have” becomes “I’ve” and “She has” becomes “She’s”.

How to make the past participle form

With regular verbs, the past participle is the same as the simple past. You can form it by adding -ED to the end of the verb. (See Simple Past: Regular Verbs for more information on this.) However, with some verbs, you need to add -EN or change the verb itself. There are no real rules for this; you just need to learn the verbs which are irregular. Sometimes the past participle is the same as the simple past, and sometimes it isn’t. Here are four main categories of verbs with examples. Please note that there are many different ways to form past participles; this is just a small sample.

Category Present Simple Past Past Participle
Verbs which don’t change cut
hit
fit
cut
hit
fit
cut
hit
fit
Verbs which change their vowel sit
drink
dig
sat
drank
dug
sat
drunk
dug
Verbs which change their vowel and add -EN break
eat
take
broke
ate
took
broken
eaten
taken
Verbs which change completely catch
bring
teach
caught
brought
taught
caught
brought
taught

When you are sure that you understand the lesson, you can continue with the exercises.

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