Present perfect: prepositions and adverbs

Once English language students start putting the present perfect tense into practice it is time for them to use the related prepositions and adverbs. We know that prepositions for and since (this last one pronounced /sɪns/) can be sometimes tricky for students to use properly. Today we would like to share some tips, as well as examples and exercises, on these prepositions and adverbs and their correct use.

As we know, we use the present perfect to talk about the present result of past actions and recent events. For example, when we say “I have lost my wallet”, we mean “The wallet was lost at some point in the past, and I do not have it now as a result”. When we use the present perfect tense, the action takes place at an unspecified time in the past, therefore we do not use specific time expressions such as yesterday, last week, and so on.

What we do use are certain adverbs and prepositions. Let us start with the adverbs.

  • Just: it indicates that an action has taken place very recently. Example:
    • I have just finished my lunch
    • She has just left the office
  • Ever/never: they are used to talk about general life experiences. For instance:
    • Have you ever been to Poland?
    • No, I have never been to Poland
  • Already/yet:  these adverbs are very common when using the present perfect. As a general rule, already is used in affirmative sentences and yet in negative and interrogative. Let’s see the following examples:
    • Martha has already had her breakfast
    • Have you finished your homework yet?
    • No, I haven’t finished my homework yet.
  • Still: this adverb is used for actions that have not taken place yet, but we are expecting them to happen:
    • I still haven’t found my keys.

Now let’s take a look at the prepositions, particularly for and since:

  • For: used to talk about periods of time. Examples:
    • We haven’t seen each other for ten years.
    • I’ve been waiting for ten minutes
  • Since: it indicates when a particular period started. Examples:
    • My wife has been an engineer since 2005
    • You haven’t done anything about it since last summer

Additionally, the present perfect is used with prepositions or prepositional phrases indicating periods of time that have not finished yet: this morning/month/year, up to date, so far, over the past few days/weeks, etc:

  • We haven’t made any choices so far
  • Philip hasn’t been around over the past few days
  • Up to date, you haven’t come up with a reasonable plan yet.

Now let’s put all this theory into practice:

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