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Intermediate English Grammar Step by Step

 

     UNIT 7
     THE PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE, THE SIMPLE PAST, THE PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS, THE PAST PERFECT SIMPLE and THE PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS1

 

   Write the verbs in brackets in the correct form.

 

1. The present perfect simple has the following form: have + past participle. Please note that has replaces have in the third person singular. As for the past participle, if the verb is regular, we add -ed to the infinitive2; but if it is irregular, you will have to look it up in unit 9.

   Compare the examples below:
   work (regular)
   I have worked
   you have worked
   he has worked
   she has worked
   it has worked
   we have worked
   you have worked
   they have worked

   sing (irregular)
   I have sung
   you have sung
   he has sung
   she has sung
   it has sung
   we have sung
   you have sung
   they have sung

   To contract the forms above, we only need to place an apostrophe (') instead of ha:
   work (regular)
   I've worked
   you've worked
   he's worked
   she's worked
   it's worked
   we've worked
   you've worked
   they've worked

   sing (irregular)
   I've sung
   you've sung
   he's sung
   she's sung
   it's sung
   we've sung
   you've sung
   they've sung

   In the negative, we place not after have/has. In the interrogative, we put have/has before the subject.
   He has worked today. (affirmative)
   He has not worked today./He hasn't worked today. (negative)
   Has he worked today? (interrogative)
   We have sung two songs. (affirmative)
   We have not sung two songs./We haven't sung two songs. (negative)
   Have we sung two songs? (interrogative)

a  She (be) here twice this year.
b  We (lose) our money.
c  They (live) here since 1990.
d  It (not stop) raining.
e  He (pass) his exams?

 

2. We studied the simple past in the previous unit. Now let us have a look at some examples as a refresher:
   They failed their examinations. (affirmative)
   They did not fail their examinations. (negative)
   Did they fail their examinations? (interrogative)
   She went home late last night. (affirmative)
   She didn't go home late last night. (negative)
   Did she go home late last night? (interrogative)

a  You (see) an enormous horse?
b  He (come) here on foot?
c  "Where you (meet) her?"
   "I (meet) her on a beach last summer."
d  I (not know) you were getting married next month!
e  He (give) up smoking last year, but he (find) it very hard.

 

3. The present perfect simple is used for actions that started in the past, and have not stopped yet, or have just stopped. The present perfect is connected with the present, whereas the simple past is not. Examples:
   She studied Catalan last year. (This sentence implies that she no longer studies it. It has nothing to do with the present.)
   She has studied Catalan since she was six. (She still studies it.)

a  She (live) in London all her life, so if you go to London, don't forget to visit her.
b  She (live) in London for a year, but (find) a job in Barcelona and (move) there.
c  My father (use) to smoke like a chimney, but last year he (give) it up.
d  My parents (smoke) since they were teenagers. I'd like them to stop smoking.
e  "What do you do?"
   "I'm a teacher. I (teach) maths for ten years."

 

4. Have just + a past participle means that something happened a moment ago:
   She has just gone out. (= She went out a minute ago.)
   They have just been expelled from the committee. (= This is very recent.)

a  We just (finish) supper, so we're not hungry.
b  He just (phone) them. You don't have to ring them again.
c  They just (tell) us that they won't come.
d  It just (stop) snowing. Let's go out and make a snowman.
e  I just (have) a puncture, but I don't have a spare wheel.

 

5. The present pefect simple is also used to indicate that something has never happened, when we do not know when it takes place, or whether it has occurred or not.
   I have never drunk tequila.
   Haven't we seen each other before?/Have we not seen each other before?
   We have read this book.

a  We never (be) overseas, but we're planning to go to Africa next summer.
b  He (write) an essay on medieval history.
c  There (be) another earthquake in Mexico.
d  "You (invite) her to your wedding?"
   "Of course I have!"
e  "Where you (be)?"
   "I (be) at home the whole afternoon!"

 

6. The words or expressions in brackets (already, ever, lately, since, so far, up to now and yet) usually require perfect tenses.
   I haven't ridden a horse since I was a kid.
   She hasn't talked to him lately.
   He hasn't had a romantic date for two years. (present perfect → for)
   We stayed in Valencia for a week, and then went to Barcelona. (simple past → for)

a  "You ever (meet) a famous person?"
   "No, I haven't. And you?"
b  We (sell) ten magazines so far."
c  "You (do) your homework already?"
   "Yes, I have."
   "But ten minutes ago you had not even started!"
d  Up to now he (not do) any mischief."
e  "She (buy) that record yet?"
   "No, not yet!"

 

7. Revision exercise.
a  Her father (die) when she was at university. She (love) him a lot and (find) it very hard to get used to the idea of his death.
b  The Beatles (make) many youngsters thrill.
c  Mary (get) divorced and (marry) again in 1995. She (be) very unhappy with her former husband.
d  I (not do) my homework yet, so I must go home now to do it.
e  Amanda (be) connected to the Internet since early this morning. Please tell her to come downstairs and have lunch.
f  "You (see) Mary today?"
   "No, I (not see) her today. I (see) her yesterday."
g  "You (not read) the newspaper yet?"
   "No, I (not read) it. I (forget) to buy it this morning. When I went to the newsagent's this afternoon, there (be) none left."
h  He (know) her for a long time. They're very close friends.
i  Two of the murderers (be) caught so far.
j  They (be) to the States many times. They love it.
k  I'm afraid he's out. He just (leave).
l  They never (fail) an exam. They're very intelligent and hard-working.
m  We (have) that old car for twenty years now.
n  "You (call) the fire brigade?"
   "Not yet, but I'll do it now."
o  Paul (play) truant last Wednesday morning.
p  "You (not know) that he (be) abroad?"
   "No, I didn't."
q  Last night it (rain) cats and dogs.
r  The play (begin) at seven o'clock and we (arrive) there at half past seven, so we (miss) the beginning.
s  John (take) the kids to the zoo, but they'll come back soon.
t  I (lose) my wallet. Can you help me to find it?
u  We (spend) two days there a year ago.
v  I (not pay) you last night because I (not have) any money on me.
w  I (forget) to bring the onions, but I'll go to the shop round the corner and I'll buy some.
x  They (not watch) their favourite soup opera yesterday because the electricity (go) off.
y  "He (send) her a bunch of flowers on her birthday."
   "When her birthday (be)?"
   "Two weeks ago."
z  We (not hold) last week's meeting because Mr Brown (have) an important appointment, and could not attend it.

 

8. We use have been + verb-ing3 to form the present perfect continuous:
   She has been working in this factory for two years. (affirmative)
   You haven't been studying. You've been reading comics. (negative, affirmative)
   I know that we have not been doing the proper thing. (negative)
   Have you been smoking? It smells of tobacco. (interrogative)

a  I (try) to solve the problem for the last twenty minutes, but I can't work it out.
b  You (cheat) me. This is intolerable.
c  He (smoke) that horrible cigar since he arrived. Can you tell him to put it out?
d  "They (sleep) for ten hours. Shall I wake them up?"
e  My mother (make) fairy cakes all morning. Would you like one?

 

9. At times, we may use both the present perfect simple and continuous: She has been working/She has worked here for twenty years now. Nonetheless, this is not always possible. Let us have a look at some examples now:
   She has always lived in this house. (We are referring to a permanent situation.)
   I have loved her since we were children. ("Love" does not take continuous tenses4.)
   He has been painting that wall. (The wall is not yet finished, or the paint is still wet.)
   He has painted that wall. (We do not know when he painted it. He may have painted it several days ago.)
   He has painted two walls so far. (The quantity is given.)

a  They (lie) on the beach all morning. Tell them to come and have a snack. They can get sunburnt if they spend so much time in the sun.
b  She (do) aerobics, and now wants to have a shower.
c  She always (believe) in you. Please don't let her down.
d  I (draw) a beautiful landscape. I'm going to give it to my girlfriend this evening. Do you like it?
e  We (study) English for two years now. Time flies.

 

10. Revision exercise.
a  " How long you (learn) Esperanto?"
   "I (learn) Esperanto since last year."
b  Belinda (not shut) the door. She always leaves the door open.
c  They (arrest) him two weeks ago.
d  She (be) sent to prison. We must appeal against the sentence.
e  My sister (type) all the afternoon. She (type) ten pages so far.
f  I (fail) this exam many times. I think I'll never be able to pass it.
g  It's the second time you (make) this mistake. You should pay more attention to what I say.
h  You (pull) my leg since I arrived. Please stop pulling my leg once and for all.
i  They (have) a car accident in June and are still in hospital.
j  We never (reveal) a secret, so don't worry: your secret is save with us.
k  "What you (do) since you (arrive)?"
   "I (look) for you. Where you (be)?"
   "We (walk) in the country."
l  There (be) a slight increase in road accidents over the last two months. I suppose it is due to the holiday season.
m  When I (visit) Africa, my life (change) completely. I (meet) my Mr Right and (get) married. Now I've got two children and am very happy.
n  I (take) Arabic lessons for two years, but I find Arabic very difficult to learn.
o  You (not say) anything in the last half hour. Are you cross with me?
p  It (sleet) since early this morning. I wonder when it will stop.
q  When Mary (come), he was writing a letter. He (stand) up and (give) her a kiss. Then he (continue) writing his letter.
r  "You ever (write) a poem?"
   "Well, I just (write) one. Would you like me to read it for you?"
   "Yes, please!"
s  That night he (put) on his hat and (go) for a walk, but he never (return).
t  You (not phone) me to say you weren't coming. You (have) me worried, as I (think) something bad had happened to you.
u  The spaghetti that you (cook) on Monday (taste) delicious. It's the best spaghetti that I ever (have).
v  She (dig) in the garden, which is why she is so dirty now.
w  "Peter (come) home yet?"
   "Yes, I think so. Why?"
   "There's somebody at the door asking for him."
x  I (fall) asleep during the film, so I (not see) the end, but I (be) so exhausted that my eyes wouldn't stay open.
y  They (want) to engage me as a translator, but they (pay) so little that I (not accept) their offer.
z  We (not earn) much money this month, and (spend) a lot. We should try to cut down our expenses if we don't want to go bankrupt.

 

11. We make the past perfect simple with had + a past participle:
   He had done it/He'd done it. (affirmative)
   We had not repaired the roof/We hadn't repaired the roof. (negative)
   Hadn't they met before?/Had they not met before? (negative and interrogative)

a  When I got home, my mother (bake) some bread, so I had some.
b  He said that she (perform) serveral miracles up to then, which is why she had so many followers.
c  I never (come) across so big a snake in my whole life, so I was frightened to death.
d  He told me that his mother (not be) able to come the day before because she was ill in bed.
e  He wondered if they (go) to the party the previous night.

 

12. The past perfect continuous is made with had + been + verb-ing:
   It had been raining. (affirmative)
   We had not been watching TV./We hadn't been watching TV. (negative)
   Had they been running? (interrogative)

a  She (drive) all day, so she felt very tired, and decided to stop and spend the night on a motel.
b  Paul (swim) quite a while because the water was warm and didn't want to get out of the swiming-pool.
c  He said that she (play) the violin for hours on end and that it was about time for her to stop.
d  He (talk) ill about Margaret since the beginning of the party, but when I told him that he shouldn't criticise her, as she was not present, he got angry and left.
e  I said that he (speak) all the time and that he should let the others speak, but he took no notice and went on speaking.

 

13. The past perfect simple and the past perfect continuous are the past tenses of the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous, respectively. As a result, the differences between the past perfect simple and continuous are the same as the ones seen between the present perfect simple and continuous, with the only difference that the past perfect simple and continuous refer to the past.
   Present
   They have never been to London. (present perfect simple)
   He has been singing. (present perfect continuous)

   Past
   They had never been to London. (past perfect simple)
   He had been singing. (past perfect continuous)

   Furthermore, we must bear in mind that both the past perfect simple and continuous refer to an action that happened earlier than the one expressed by the past simple and continuous. This can be represented as follows:
   — — — ↓ — — — — — ↓ — — — — ↓ — —
   (past perfect) ← (past) ← (present)

   Let's illustrate this with some examples:
   When Mary got to the bus station, her bus had already left. (That is to say, she arrived late.)
   When I dropped in on them, they had finished dinner and were having a cosy chat and some brandy. (ie, they had finished dinner before I arrived.)
   When I went home, I could perceive a delicious smell: my mother had been making apple jam. (ie, the jam was still piping hot, or she was still making it.)

a  The course (start) that day, and none of us ever (fly) a plane.
b  I got my hands dirty because I (repair) the car.
c  He shouted at me because I (forget) my book at home.
d  Thomas (cheat) at cards, but they discovered it and forced him to give them back their money.
e  When he entered the garage, his dad (mend) his bike, so they went for a ride on their bikes immediately.

 

14. Revision exercise.
a  Margaret (stay) up that night because his little son (fall) ill.
b  They dismissed us from our jobs because he (let) the cat out of the bag and (say) that we (rob) the company.
c  They (play) cards all night. For this reason, James (want) to stop, but John didn't, as he (lose) a fortune.
d  I wanted to take my car, but then I remember that I (leave) the car keys at home, so I (have) to take a bus.
e  Constance (come) twice this morning. She said that she will come back at half past eleven.
f  It (snow) since ten o'clock. I hope it will stop soon because it will ruin my crops if it doesn't.
g  I (not have) to wake her up yesterday because she already (get) up.
h  She (escape) from jail last night, and nobody (see) her yet. She must be hidden somewhere.
i  Somebody (steal) her purse while she was walking across this park.
j  The priest (paint) the pew, so I got my clothes dirty. He should have written a notice warning that the paint was still wet.
k  When the police (get) there, the robbers already (rob) the bank and (leave). The police (look) for them everywhere, but they (be) nowhere to be found, so they (run) away with the money. This (occur) ten years ago, and they still (not be) caught. I do not think the police will ever catch them after such a long time.
l  I (see) her many times, but we never (be) introduced. I suppose she lives near by.
m  "What a bad odour!"
   "I (make) pickled sardines. Don't you like them?"
n  It is thought that Noah (build) an ark to save his family and a pair of every sort of animal from perishing in the Flood.
o  My son (not sleep) at home last night, and still (not show) up. Maybe he (have) an accident with his motorbike.
p  You (not follow) my advice last week, and they (fire) you. I (tell) you this would happen.
q  "I (not put) on this suit yesterday evening because it (be) creased, since my mother (not iron) it."
   "You could have ironed it yourself! That's not a good excuse."
r  I (read) this passage at least ten times, but I still don't understand it. Could you explain it to me?
s  "I'd like to watch TV, but the television set is broken."
   "He (mend) it, so you can watch it."
t  "I'm going to take the car."
   "You aren't going to take it: you (drink) a lot and are very drunk."
u  When he (tell) his parents that he (fail) his driving test, they got very angry with him.
v  He (smoke) again lately because of his wife's sudden death. He can't get used to the idea of her death. He (adore) her.
w  We (not realise) what was going on until Ann (burst) into laughter.
x  She (divorce) him because she (think) that he was seeing another woman.
y  My doctor said that I (have) the attack of indigestion because I (overeat), and that I should stop eating so much.
z  We (go) out together since I (come) to this city. We want to marry next autumn.

 

____________________
1  Continuous tenses are also called progressive tenses. For example, the past perfect continuous or the past perfect progressive.
2  When a verb is regular, both the simple past and the past participle are made by adding -ed to the infinitive:
   She fried an egg last night. (simple past)
   He has never fried an egg. (past participle)
   See unit 6, section 1.
3  See unit 5, section 4 for further information about verb-ing.
4  See unit 5, sections 6 and 7.
Written by Miquel Molina i Diez
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