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Verb patterns and structures

Subject + present perfect + adverbials/complements
  • They have lived here since 1960.
  • They have lived here for twelve years now.
  • The boy has grown enormously in the last two years.
  • Has the peon gone to the post office already?
  • I have been there this morning.

Grammar notes

The present perfect is a present tense. So when we use the present perfect, the action cannot be placed at a point of time in the past. But a period of time extending up to the time of speaking may be mentioned – (e.g. for two hours, for three years, in the last two years etc.) Adverbs like just, recently, as yet, ever, never, already, today, this morning etc., can also be used.

If you have to mention a finished point of time in the past, you have to use a simple past tense.

  • I saw him yesterday. (NOT I have seen him yesterday.)
  • We lived here till 1990. (NOT We have lived here till 1990.)

The present perfect is used in the subordinate clause only when the verb in the main clause is either in the present or future tense – not in the past tense.

  • We will not begin the work until they have agreed to our conditions.
  • I /b>shall come back after I have had my lunch.
  • I understand that you have resigned from the committee.
Verb patterns with present perfect progressive tense

The present perfect progressive shows that an action started in the past, has continued up to the present and is still continuing.

  • Alice has been knitting a sweater for her brother.
  • The anxious father has been waiting for a call from his son in the US.
  • The leaning tower of Pisa has been leaning more and more every year.
  • The Americans have been spending billions of dollars on space research.
Grammar notes

Since the action started in the past and has been continuing ever since, the only point of time that can be mentioned in such a sentence is the time when the action started.

  • He has been working here since 1998.
  • She has been waiting for a bus since 8 o’clock.

You can also mention the period of time during which the action has been going on.

  • He has been working here for seven hours.
  • She has been waiting for a bus for one hour.

But it is wrong to say:

  • We have been working all yesterday.
  • It has been raining during the whole of last week.

You must say:

  • We worked all yesterday.
  • It rained the whole of last week.
Verb patterns with the past perfect

The past perfect denotes an action completed some time in the past before another past action or event started.

  • The Prime Minister had visited Moscow before she went to London.
  • The visitors had left by the time I reached home.
  • The patient had died before the doctor arrived.
  • The rebels had already been shot before the UN could intervene.

Note that the past perfect tense is not used to simply say that something happened sometime ago. We use the simple past to convey this meaning.

  • We went to Mumbai last week. (NOT We had been to Mumbai last week.)
  • We went to the pictures last night. (NOT We had been to the pictures last night.)

Sections In This Article

Verb patterns - I
Verb patterns - II
Verb patterns - III
Verb patterns - IV
Verb patterns - V
Conversational structures

 

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