Talking About Experiences in the Present Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Tense - Lesson #2

The present perfect tense is used in a few ways and we will cover them all in these lessons.

In this lesson, we will focus on using the present perfect to talk about life experiences and finished actions.

The present perfect is similar to the simple past tense sentences.
  • I have been to China. = I went to China.
  • I have eaten lunch. = I ate lunch.
These sentences are basically the same thing.

However, the grammar rules between present perfect and simple past tense are different. We use simple past tense with specific of definite time like a year, day, or time. We cannot use a specific time with the present perfect.
  • I went to China in 2007.
  • I have been to China in 2007.
However, you can use the present perfect to tell how many times.
  • I have been to China 3 times.
Just for your information, you can also use the simple past tense in this way.
  • I went to China 3 times in 2007.
Remember that we use a different verb form with the present perfect tense. We use the past participle when we use the present perfect tense in English. For regular verbs, it is the same as the simple past, but some verbs are different. We need to memorize these.

Base FormPast SimplePast Participle
have had had

There is one more important thing to talk about. When we use the present perfect, we can use it to talk about our experiences for our whole life or our recent experiences.
  • I have been to China 3 times.
    (This sentence means during my whole life.)

  • I have been to China 3 times recently.
    (This is only talking about these days.)

  • She has never been here.
    (Whole life)

  • She hasn't been here lately.
    (Just recently)
Now that we know the basic rules, let's look at how to make a sentence in the present perfect.

Subject + have/has + past participle…

Remember that we usually use the verb "be" instead of "go" in the present perfect.
  • I have been to Canada many times.
  • I have tried sushi once.
  • She has been snowboarding a few times.
  • They have discussed moving to a different city.
  • Mark has climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan.
  • She has had surgery 5 times in the last 2 years.
  • He has been sick a lot lately.
We can make negative sentences by using "not" or "never".

"Never" means that the action or experience has been done 0 times in a person's life or the history of the world. Look at the difference between "not" and "never" in these sentences.
  • I have not seen her today.
  • I have never seen her. (0 times in my life)

  • I have not heard that song in a long time.
  • I have never heard that song. (0 times in my life)
Look at a few more examples.
  • I have not been there.
  • She has not come home tonight.
  • He has not finished.
  • They have not climbed Mt. Everest.
  • She has not been to a concert.
  • He has never eaten meat.
  • She has never been to South America.
  • They have never met each other.
Adjectives, nouns, and prepositional phrases follow the verb "to be". So, in these sentences, we use "been + adjective/noun".
  • She has never been late.
  • He has been a doctor, lawyer, and soldier.
  • They have been on the top of Mt. Everest.
We can use two different contractions.
  1. Pronoun + have (I've) / Pronoun + has (She's)
  2. have + not (haven't) / has + not (hasn't)
Note: There is no contraction with the word "never".

The contractions "she's" "he's" and "it's" can have two meanings. For example,
  • She's = She is / She has
We can know which one by looking at the rest of the sentence. After you study a little, it will be easy. For example, if you see a past participle verb (ex. Seen), then you know "she's" means "she has".

Here are some examples.
  • She's never been to Mexico.
  • He's never seen snow.
  • They've been here a few times.
  • She's decided to quit her job.
  • He's never broken a bone.
There are many things to know and remember if you want to use the present perfect well. You have to be able to use the present perfect well if you want to speak English well.

Spend a lot of time studying and practicing. You will be happy that you did because the present perfect is on the most important and used verb tenses in English.

Example Sentences
  • I have been to New York City two times.
  • I've eaten whale meat once.
  • I have never been to Iceland.
  • I haven't been bungee jumping.

  • You have been there many times.
  • You've met him.
  • You haven't met him.
  • You have never been on time in your life.

  • We have been bowling once.
  • We've seen many beautiful pieces of art here.
  • We have never been married.
  • We haven't been to Italy.

  • Mark has had 3 different jobs in his life.
  • He's been skydiving.
  • He's never seen the movie Terminator!
  • He has not called me in a long time.

  • She has met many famous people.
  • She's tried Korean food, but she didn't like it.
  • Tina has never eaten beef in her whole life.
  • She hasn't been on a ship.

  • Mark and Tim have been fishing many times.
  • They've written many history books together.
  • They haven't seen her today.
  • They have never met her.
English Conversation 1

A) I have been to Mongolia.
B) How was it?
A) It is a beautiful country. I haven't been to many places, but I can't imagine a more scenic place.
B) You should go to Fiji. I've been there a few times. It also has great scenery.
A) My wife has been there. She also thinks it is the most beautiful place in the world.

English Conversation 2

A) She has climbed over 50 mountains.
B) Really? I guess she likes climbing.
A) It is her passion. She has even climbed Mt. Everest.
B) Did she get to the top?
A) She said she didn't make it to the top last time, but she plans to try again next year.
B) That is amazing, but I prefer more comfortable activities.
A) I agree with you on that.

Learn to speak better English by simply doing this basic practice exercise. First, complete the sentences with your own answers, and then practice making your own sentences. Finally, try using this grammar in real life.

Tip: Say the sentences aloud. This will help you practice speaking English and improve your English fluency.

I have _______________ one time.
I have _______________ a few times.
I have _______________ many times.
I haven't _______________.
I have never _______________.
She has _______________ once.
He has _______________ many times.
She hasn't _______________ in a long time because _______________.
He has never _______________ because _______________.
They have never _______________.
They've _______________ more than 100 times.