Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Problems With the Present Perfect

Do you have problems using Has and Have? If you want to know the difference between He came and He has come, read on.

When you use has or have with words such as come, gone and written, you are using a tense called the Present Perfect.

This tense can pose peculiar challenges to people who are learning to use English as a second language. There are some languages which have no such tense in them, and learners from these languages find it difficult to understand and use the tense in English correctly.

I am sure this article will be useful to learners of this kind.

First let us take the word perfect in the Present Perfect. The word in grammar means perfected or completed. That means you are speaking about an action that is completed at the time of your speaking.

Look at the sentence He has come. The sentence means the act of coming is over, and he is here now. Note the sentence carefully. The sentence actually comprises two sentences: He came and He is here now.

The Present Perfect is a compound tense, that is comprising two tenses, one talking about an action in the past, and the other talking about the effect, result or situation created by it in the present.

He came. He is here now = He has come. They went to Melbourne. They are there now = They have gone to Melbourne.

It requires some familiarity with good English to come to terms with the Present Perfect. The tense cannot be simply explained by saying it speaks about the present result of a past action as in I have signed the papers. Look at the sign!

I have read the Bible many times over. What result in the present does it speak about, I mean the action of reading?

This tense speaks about knowledge or experience that we have gained. When I say that I have read the Bible many times over, it tells the listener that I have knowledge of the Bible.

The Present Perfect sometimes does not speak about any result or knowledge at all. It is used for speaking about an action that started in the past and continues into the present.

I have worked for this company for almost five years now.

It is these things that a learner has to grapple with when using the Present Perfect.

The past speaks about an action in the past: He came. Nothing more.

The Present Perfect speaks about a past and its effect on the present: He came + He is here = He has come. sometimes, the effect can be some knowledge gained or experience had.

ganeshan ramachandran