Grammar-QuizzesVerb PhrasesVerb GroupsPresent Perfect > Experience

Present Perfect: Experience

Express something happening in an unspecified past time

remembering
 

Experience—Past vs. Present Perfect

EXPERIENCE—PAST

A verb in the past without an adverb or adverbial phrase that pins the activity to the past is understood as having occurred at an indefinite (unspecified) time in the past. It is an experience that ended before the time of speaking.  "This happened."                                     

AN EXPERIENCE SOMETIME IN THE PAST

saw-sometime in the past

Ruth:  My family and I saw the Tower of Pisa on our trip to Italy.

Bob:   Did you like it? 

This is a past activity without a particular reference to the exact time.

Ruth:  We drove from Pisa to Florence.

Bob:  You went to Florence too? 

Ruth:  Yes. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to see it all.

Bob: I don't think that we did either. There's so much to see.

EXPERIENCE—PRESENT PERFECT

A verb in the present perfect without an adverb or adverbial phrase is understood as (1) having occurred at an indefinite time in the past (experience); and it is either (2a) recent (in one's present frame-of-mind) or (2b) somehow important to the conversation or topic now.

A PAST EXPERIENCE THAT SOMEHOW RELATES TO THE PRESENT

have seen-past is relevant to present conversation

Ruth:  My family and I have just seen the Tower of Pisa. (recent)

Bob: I have have seen the Tower of Pisa too.  It's an interesting landmark.

This is a recent activity that relates to the present conversation. (past→present)

Ruth:  We drove from Pisa to Florence. Have you been there?

Bob:  Yes, I have been to Florence also. It's beautiful, isn't it?  (relevant)

Ruth:  Yes. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to see it all.

Bob: We have also regretted that we didn't stay there longer. (relevant)

 

*not used / incorrect

relevant (Adj) – something that relates (has a connection) to the current situation, topic, conversation, situation, etc.

 

 

 

 

Present Perfect Adverbs

Experience—unspecified time

 

Ever / Never / Before

EVER / NEVER

Have you ever visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa?

Yes, I have.   Yes, I have seen it .      (experience exists)

No, I haven't. No, I haven't seen it.   (experience  doesn't exist)

No, I haven't ever seen it.  (negative verb is used with ever)

No , I have never seen it.  (experience  doesn't exist - more emphasis)

No , I've never seen it.  (I have can contract to I've)

BEFORE

Have you visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa before?

Yes, I have.   Yes, I have seen it.      (experience exists)

No, I haven't. No, I haven't seen it.   (experience  doesn't exist)

Yes, I have seen it before(experience  doesn't exist - emphasis)

No, I haven't seen it before(experience  doesn't exist - emphasis)

No, I've not seen it before. (experience  doesn't exist - emphasis)

 

 

 

 

 
STATEMENT

Never is an adverb that expresses "at no time". It is only used with a positive verb (in a positive clause environment). In contrast, ever, which expresses "at any time", is only used with a negative verb or negative clause environment. 

POSITIVE VERB

You have been to Italy.  experience

You have never been to Italy.  (positive verb + never) 0 experience

NEGATIVE VERB OR CLAUSE ENVIRONMENT

You haven't ever been to Italy.  (negative verb + ever)

I doubt that you have ever been to Italy.

It is unlikely that you have ever been to Italy.

QUESTION

An interrogative followed by the adverb ever ( "at any time?") is used when the speaker is uncertain about the answer. A question with never ("at no time?") often expresses disbelief.

QUESTION NEGATIVE / AFFIRMATIVE RESPONSE

Have you ever been to Italy?  

(I'm uncertain.)

No, I haven't  / Yes, I have.

Have you never been to Italy?

(I think you have.)

No, I haven't  / Yes, I have. 

You haven't ever been to Italy, have you? 

(I think you have not.)

Yes. I have not. / No. I have.

Correct. I have not. / Incorrect. I have.

 
 

polarity — never and ever are said to "have polarity". That is, they are sensitive to the negative or positive environment in the surrounding clause: (positive verb + never) and (negative verb + ever).

*You haven't never been to Italy.  Avoid a double negative.

Also see  Negatives.

 

 

 

 

Present Perfect Adverbs (time expressions)

Specify the timing of an action or activity

tourists
 

 

Adverbs for Present Perfect Tense

DEFINITE TIMING  "HAPPENING BEFORE AND UP TO NOW"

Adverbial expressions with definite timing are used when actions have starting times and ending times relative to the current moment (now). Compare (1) I have just walked to class this morning. The period ended when I arrived at class. (done, perfective) to (2) I have been walking to class this morning. The period will end when I arrive at class. (may be ongoing, imperfective)

BOTH PROG. NONPROGRESSIVE BOTH PROG. & NONPROGRESSIVE

He has just visited Pisa.

He has just been visiting Pisa.

He has visited Pisa today.

He has been visiting Pisa today

A TIME PERIOD RELATIVE TO NOW A STARTING TIME UP TO NOW

just (just, recently, [neg.] lately)

I have just walked a mile.

I have just been walking a mile.

today¹ / tonight (a time starting from within this time to current time) 

 

so far(to date, up to now, until now)

I have read 40 pages so far.

*I have been reading 40 pages so far.

this month¹  (a time starting from within this time to current tim:morning, evening, week, semester, this spring, year, decade, century)

already (earlier than expected)

I have walked 10 minutes already.

I have been walking 10 minutes already.

since / ever since(from this time to current time: 6:00 AM, noon, midnight, this morning, May 2012; ever since I met you)

yet (later than expected)

I haven't walked 10 minutes yet.

*I haven't been walking 10 minutes yet.

from last Monday until now(1 PM until now)

 

 

 

 

INDEFINITE TIMING "HAPPENING SOMETIME"

Adverbial expressions with indefinite timing are used when activities or states happen "sometime", not related to the current moment (now). The precise time is not important. The focus is on the activity or state.  These adverbs express duration (a period of time) or repetition (the interval of occurrence). They are mostly imperfective (may extend in the future).

MOSTLY PROGRESSIVE BOTH PROG. & NONPROGRESSIVE

He has visited Pisa recently.

He has been visiting temporarily.

He has often given tours.

~He has often been giving tours.

DURATION— PERIOD REPETITION — INTERVAL

temporarily(continuously, briefly, momentarily) [imperfective, ongoing]

⇒ Mostly progressive.

repeatedly(constantly, continuously, again and again, perpetually, eternally)

⇒ Switch to "keep" with progressive.³

for a moment (ten minutes, a week, a month, for a while², a little while, a day,  forever)  ⇒ Often present perfect.

always (routinely, customarily, usually, in general, normally, often, sometimes, hardly ever, never) 

during the week (month, year, etc.)

⇒ Mostly nonprogressive.

ever  (requesting any experience: before) 

from Monday to Tuesday(1 PM to 2 PM, morning to night)

all my life

at night (noon, midnight, sunset)

in spring (winter, summer, June, July)

while it is warm(a relative period of time: when, if, whenever, before, after)  before sunrise  (after)

on Mondays (Tuesday, Sundays, etc.)

most days (nights, weekends, etc.)

over the past year (weeks, decades, centuries)

throughout the year (weeks, decades, centuries)

every / each / every other  (hour, day, night, week, month, year, May, spring)

 

¹ time expressions such as like today or this month include time that is past, present and future. With the present tense, we understand the time to be present, current, now.

² for a while (PP) – can be understood in two ways: (1) having some amount of duration, or (2) being very temporary

³ keep + verb+ing – Repetition can be expressed by using the "keep" (I keep walking.  He kept smiling.)  The progressive with "repeatedly" (*I am walking to class repeatedly. )sounds awkward.

Also see Ever v. Never, Already v. Yet., Adverbs of Frequency, For v Since.

"Leaning Tower of Pisa–Exterior." By Jordiferrer. Wikimedia, 7 Aug. 2016. Licensed under CC BY-SA4.0 International.

 

 

 

 

Yes-No Short Answers

Respond positively or negatively

octopus
 

 

Present Perfect — yes /  no responses

YES

Whether the question is phrased in a positive or negative manner, yes occurs in the affirmative response with a positive auxiliary verb.

POSITIVE QUESTION

Have you ever eaten octopus?

Yes, I have.

NEGATIVE QUESTION

Haven't you ever / Have you never eaten octopus? a doubtful question

Yes, I have.  / *No, I have.

NO

Whether the question is phrased in a positive or negative manner, no occurs in the negative response with a negative auxiliary verb.

POSITIVE QUESTION

Have you ever eaten octopus?

No, I haven't.

NEGATIVE QUESTION

Haven't you ever / Have you never eaten octopus? a doubtful question

No, I haven't.  / *Yes, I haven't.

 

*not used / incorrect

 

 

 

 
DOUBLE NEGATIVE STATEMENTS

Speakers avoid using double negatives in business and academic English. Informally, double negatives might be used for emphasis.

Have you eaten octopus?

I  haven't ever eaten octopus.

I *haven't never  eaten octopus.   very informal, mostly in speech – used for emphasis

I haven't never eaten no octopus. I won't never eat no octopus.    very informal, a triple negative!

DOUBLE NEGATIVE SHORT RESPONSES

When responding to a negative question, a speaker will respond to the question as if it were positively phrased.  (The negative phrasing expresses speaker's doubt or disbelief.)

Haven't you ever eaten octopus?  a doubtful question

No, I haven't.

Have you ever eaten octopus?   a simple question

No, I haven't.

*Haven't you never eaten octopus? 

 

Related page   Pop-Q "yes-no".  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Order

Placing Emphasis

bail out
 

 

Strong emphasis vs. mild emphasis

STRONG EMPHASIS

Emphasis is created by placing the adverb before the sentence AND placing the auxiliary verb before the subject and the main verb ("fronting").

Never   have  we seen  such a financial mess.

Never   have  we had to have a financial bailout before.

Never   did      we  expect such a thing to happen.

          move the adverb forward
Never
should we should never allow this to happen.  (subject-auxiliary inversion)

MILD EMPHASIS

Slightly less emphasis is created by placing the adverb before the auxiliary and main verb.

We    never  have seen such a financial mess before.

We    never have had to have a financial bailout before.

We    never  expect such a thing to happen.

           move adverb before auxiliary
We
never  should never allow this to happen.

 

 

 

 

 
NORMAL

The adverb is normally placed before the main verb (and after any auxiliary verbs).

We    should  never allow this to happen again.

We  shouldn't ever allow this to happen again.

FINAL SENTENCE POSITION

In writing, words closer to the beginning of the sentence carry more emphasis.  In speech, intonation determines word emphasis regardless of position in the sentence

We  shouldn't allow this to happen again ever.

We  shouldn't allow this to happen again — ever!

~We will allow this to happen — never!

 

~ not normally used, requires a special context

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Errors and solutions

ERROR SOLUTION

Have you ever visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa?
* Yes, I have visited it in June.    incompatible tense and time word

Yes, I visited it in June.   (Use past tense with a definite time in the past.)
Yes, I have visited it.       (Use present perfect with an unspecified time – no adverb. )
Yes, I have visited it recently. (Use present perfect with a relative, but indefinite time –recently. )
 

He hasn't never been there.    double negative

He hasn't ever been there.
He hasn't been there.
 

Haven't you ever eaten octopus?   /  Have you never eaten octopus. 

Yes, I haven't.    /  No, I have.     mixed positive and negative words in the response
 

Haven't you ever… / Have you never
In a negative question, the speaker expresses doubt that the experience has happened or existed.
The speaker expects a negative response; however, the response may very well be positive.

No, I haven't.    /  Yes, I have.
In an affirmative response,
yes occurs with a positive verb. In a negative response, no occurs with a negative verb. While this does not follow + / logic, this this is how we respond.
 

"Never we have to have a financial bailout of banking institutions in the U.S. before."  missing auxiliary verb

Never have we had to have a financial bailout of banking institutions in the U.S. before.  missing verb – see section above "Word order and Emphasis"
 

pop-question solution 101208Pop-Q " Never"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Earthquake Experience

San Francisco earthquake
 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the Check 1-14" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

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Practice 2

Short Answers

headache
 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 15-22" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

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