have + past participle / -ed

I have bought a new skirt. Have you bought a new skirt? I have not bought a new skirt. Yes, I have. No, I haven't.


 1.  the time, when the action happened in the past, is not expressed (experience)

I have seen him. Have you ever read his book? I have never eaten Chinese food before. I have been to Germany twice. I haven’t seen him for ages.


 2.  the time of the action is said with using time expressions which involve present

I have seen him this week. I have already passed three tests today. We have been to Croatia twice so far this year.





have been + -ing

She has been waiting. Has she been waiting? She hasn't been waiting. Yes, she has. No, she hasn't.


1. description of the action which started in the past (mainly it is well known or said) and the action is continuing till now

I have been studying English for ten years. She has been living in Prague for three years. How long have you been waiting? 



2.  the action which happened in the past and at present we can see some result of it

She has been working all day. (She is very tired.) He has been running. (He is all wet.)  They have been cooking. (The kitchen is dirty.)

- Tip: everything what is connected with the question containing HOW LONG.

 1.If we have a question which includes „how long“ or it is the answer on such question, we use mainly present perfect continuous. This rule we can use in 80-90% of all cases.

 How long have you been studying English?


2. The only exceptions can be actions with verbs, which are not allowed to be used in continuous form or it is not suitable in the exact case.

 How long were you living in Boston before you moved to Prague? I was living in New York till 1999.  I have known her for ten years.


Difference between present perfect and past

 Expressions used with present perfect tense (simple and continuous), these expressions only help us with the determination which tense it should be but the expressions never tell us it with 100% probability. They only lead us the correct way but it is not sure! The experessions can be also used in sentences with past or present tenses and therefore be very careful about them!

Expressions used with past tense (simple and continuous), these expressions help us much more than expressions used with present perfect. The expressions tell us that with 99%-100% probability the sentence is realy in the past tense. Therefore it is better to learn and remember expressions with past tense.



this year / month / week

last year / month / week

this Monday / Tuesday / … weekend

last Monday / Tuesday / … weekend

this morning / afternoon / evening / night

last morning / afternoon / evening / night

this winter / summer …

last winter / summer …



just (právě)

in 1999

so far (doposud)

in July

never (nikdy), ever (někdy)

on 20th July

since (od té doby)

when, while


We can see (below) typical sentences used with past tenses. Mainly these actions already finished, the action happened only once or the person does not live any more.

 When I was young, I ….. I was born in 2000. Chinese invented paper. William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet. This book was published in 2007.



 I have never met him.   x   I never met him.

 he is still alive and there exists chance that I will meet him once x he is already dead

I have bought a new suit.     I bought it a week ago.

I do not know when it happened x I know exactly when it happened

 I have read this book.  x  I read this book last year.

I do not know when x I know exactly when

I have been to Croatia.  x  I was in Croatia in 2009. 

I do not know exactly when x I know exactly when

I have been living here since 2000.  x  I was living here for ten years.

till now and I suppose it is continuing to the future  x  but now I live somewhere else


Be careful – when x since!

     We use conjunction „WHEN“, when we talk about past, future, present and others excluding present perfect!

     We use conjunction „SINCE“ in two situations. The first is when we have two sentences, in that case we  should be aware that one of the sentences is in the past and the second is in the present perfect (or the first is in the present perfect and the second in the past).

     The second situation happens when we have only one sentence.  Then it can happen that the sentence will be in present perfect or in the past. There exists no more rule. 

When I arrived at the airport, I found her quickly. I was swimming when she called on me.   I haven’t seen this meal since you cooked it last winter. I have been playing the tennis since I was 5.