Grammar-QuizzesVerb PhrasesVerb GroupsPresent Perfect › Just / Recently

Just / Recently

Relate the past to the present time frame

Present State of Mind
Present State of Mind



Past "sequence of events" vs. Present Perfect "past relates to present"


A distant memory—a verb in the past expresses that an activity or event happened at an earlier time. The event no longer affects the speaker's current thoughts. When one action happens after the other (2 or more), it is called a sequence of events.    

Past--sequence of events

Jason finished his project this morning.  Afterwards, he played soccer.

Jason finished his thesis.  Later, he began to gather his research.

Jason finished his studies this month.  He did very well.

(a time that has passed)

Jason graduated this year. Then he traveled for a month.

Jason used to call every week. Then he stopped calling last week.


Still in mind—a verb in the present perfect expresses that an activity  or event happened at an earlier time but it still affects the speaker's current thoughts or actions; the past event relates to the current activity, topic or conversation.                        

Present Perfect--past relates to present

Jason has just finished his project. So he's out playing soccer now. (relative to his "now")

Jason has recently finished his thesis.  He's preparing to defend it. (relative to his "now")

Jason has finished studies this month. He's considering a job. (sometime within the month)

Jason has graduated this year. He's quite accomplished. (sometime within the year)

Jason hasn't called me lately. He must be busy. (relative to my "now")


just (temporal adv) — a moment before [We have just seen him.]; just (degree adv) — exactly [That's just perfect. It's just what I want.]; just (focus adv) — only [He just sang the song; he didn't write the song. Just he sang the song; no one else did. He sang just the song; nothing more.] 

recently (temporal adv) — a brief time before [We have recently seen him.]

lately (temporal adv) — within a brief time before [Commonly used in questions or negative sentences (not within a brief time before)]







Just / Recently / Lately

Word order




Sentence Position — just / recently / lately


Recently, just, and lately are used in a nonprogressive present perfect clause to express that an activity or action occurred and ended near to the moment of speaking.  Usage varies depending on the meaning of the verb.  (See process and accomplishment verbs: Duration vs. Completion.)


*Just, we have seen Jason

Recently, we have seen Jason. 

*Lately, I have seen Jason.


We have just seen Jason. ("only" or "recently")

We have recently seen Jason.

*We have lately seen Jason.


*We have seen Jason just.

We have seen Jason recently.

*We have seen Jason  lately. (statement)

Yes. We HAVE seen Jason lately.  (affirmative answer)


No. We haven't seen Jason lately / recently. (neg.)

Have you seen Jason lately / recently? (question)



Recently and lately in a progressive present perfect clause may express (1) a recent activity, but may also express (2) a temporary change in activity or behavior, ongoing, near to the moment of speaking.                                                                                                                                             


*Just, we have been watching his TV show. 

Recently, we have been watching his TV show.  (a change)

Lately, I have been watching his TV show.  (a change)


I  have just been watching his TV show. ("only" or "recently")

We have recently been watching his TV show.  (a change)

~We have lately been watching his TV show.  (a change)


*We have been watching his TV show  just.

~We have been watching his TV show recently.

~We have been watching his TV show lately.

Yes. We HAVE been watching his TV show lately.


We haven't been watching his TV show lately / recently. (neg.)

Have you been watching his TV show lately / recently? (question)


* not used / ~borderline usage or special context required

Statement intonation: *We have seen JASON lately. Answer-to-a-question intonation: We HAVE seen Jason lately.








Present Perfect

Adverbs for Recency


Adverbs for Recent Activity


The adverbs just and recently are used to report something that happened in the past with emphasis on "a short time ago." Note that "recent" is relative—a moment ago, a month ago, a decade ago.                                   

They got married recently.

They were just married.

They went shopping not too long ago.

They were married this month (week, year, season, semester—time that has passed)


More commonly, just and recently are used with the present perfect tense. The adverbs indicate an indefinite, relative time rather than a specific time. In these examples, a recent past activity is relative to a current or future activity.

They have gotten married recently.   is relative to   They are buying  new home.

They have just gotten married.   is relative to  They are leaving on their honeymoon tonight.

They've been shopping for furniture lately.   is relative to  This recent change in behavior indicates they are putting their "home" together.

(present perfect progressive + lately = a change in behavior)

They have both started new jobs this month.  is relative to  They are getting used to their busy schedules.  (this week, year, season, semester) 


aspect (N) – in grammar, it is the temporal flow expressed by the verb and its auxiliaries; how an activity  relates to time —ongoing, continuous, repetitive, habitual; a timing not limited to or relative to a single point in time.  See Tense, Mood, Aspect.

Also see Adverbs for Time.




Present Perfect

Have Finished vs. Be Finished

A man is finished cleaning up his garage.


Is finished the past-participle verb form or a participial adjective?


Have with the participle finished or done expresses recent completion (present perfect). The emphasis is on timing. Some people regard the alternate form  be finished as informal. While the two forms are/were related in form  their meanings now differ. Compare:                                            

I have finished just, recently

I have finished my work. object

~I have finished with my work.  prep. phrase

I have finished doing my work.  gerund

I have done my work.  just, recently

I have completed my work.  just, recently


I finished. (1) Can it be marked for tense? Yes.

He finishes. (2) Can it be marked for person? Yes.

Did he finish? (2) Does it use do-support? Yes.




Be with the participle finished or done expresses a state of personal readiness to move on and do something else. Interpreting the subject as the recipient of an action, is illogical. (The person has not undergone a process.) The meaning is more like "ready". Test it for its word form properties.

I am finished "ready to do something else"

I am finished *my work does not take an object

I am finished with my work. prep phrase

I am finished doing my work.  gerund

The work is finished inanimate object preferred

I am done "ready", "through"

~I am completed "You complete me. / I am completed by you" (emotional talk)


*I am a finished person. (1) Can it modify a noun? No.

*I seem finished(1) Can it complement a be-like verb? No.

*I am very finished(2) Can it be modified by a degree adverb–very or too? No.


I was finished. (1) Can it be marked for tense? Yes.

He is finished. (2) Can it be marked for person? Yes.

Do you be finished?  (3) Does it use do-support? No.

Are you finished? / Are you tired? 


*not used / ~ uncommon, questionable use, requires a special context

done (= finished) when used as an adjective, is sometimes criticized, but the word has been so used since the 15th century, <call me when you're done>. Many stylists prefer through <call me when you're through>. (Garner 273)

Merriam-Webster estimates be finished came into usage in the US in the 19thC mostly with an inanimate subject ("his business was finished"). M-W cites Otto Jesperson as having found be finished in use as early as 1766; "chiefly found in ordinary speech". (445)

Finished can be used as an adjective meaning "ready". Is the report finished yet?  With personal subjects, to be finished is often used in an informal style with the same meaning as to have finished. How soon will you be/have finished? (Swan 205)

Test for adjective properties includes (1) can it modify a noun (2) can it complement a be verb, a static verb (e.g., become, seem, appear, act, look); (3) can it be modified by a degree adverb (e.g., very, so, completely, partly).  (Huddleston 533, 541)

See Participle Modifiers 1  / Verb or Adjective?  (tests for an adjective) / be used to






Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions



Error and Solution


Where did you go on your vacation? 
I have been to the beach this summer.

Solution - lightbulb Pop-Q "Source"  

Oh dear!  Look what he has just done

Uncommon use of present perfect.

Where have you just bought those jeans?

Uncommon use of present perfect.

I have seen them lately.    


He has arrived lately.  We had to wait for him.



Where did you go?  The question places emphasis on where not duration. (source)
I went to the beach this summer.  The response states location with no particular interest in time.

Where have you beenThe question places emphasis on the duration of a recent activity.
I have been relaxing on the beach. The response states a recent activity having duration. 

Look what he just did!

Use the past tense for an emotional outburst.

Where did you just buy those jeans?

Use the past tense for reporting source.

I have seen them recently.   Use recently in place of lately in a statement.

Have you seen them lately? / I haven't seen them lately.  (OK in questions or negative context)

I have been seeing them lately.  / Lately, I have been seeing them.  (OK in progressive–ongoing, temporary)

He arrived late. / He was late.    late (Adj) – past the expected time, tardy 
Lately, he has been arriving late to work.    lately (adv.) – recently 







Office Chit-Chat



Read for Errors

Anne:  I think it's time to go home.
Bella:  No, not quite. It's still a bit early.

Anne: But we completed all of our work.
Bella: Have you lately looked at your watch?

Anne: I have, but I don't see why we can't leave early.  I did a lot of work today. Look.
Bella: I see. However, I saw the boss coming down the hall now.

Anne: Why do you think he is coming here just now?
Bella: Perhaps, he has heard that one of his employees likes to leave early.

Anne: Are you pulling my leg? 
Bella:  Yes, I have just joked.  He left lately.

Anne: My watch say five o'clock. Let's go.
Bella: We put in our eight hours.




Decide on which tense can 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" or "Check 1-10" button.