The present perfect is for things that have happened between a time and now.

Important: unlike the past tense, the time phrase in the present perfect has not finished.

Unfinished Time Phrases

today
this week
this year
in the last 3 weeks
my life

– examples:

Today I have eaten breakfast and gone to school
(between midnight and now)

This week I have visited my grandfather and been to Beijing
(between Monday morning and now)

I have visited Las Vegas and graduated high school
(between the day you were born and now)

All these things have already been finished, but the time has not.
(action finished, time not finished)

Present Perfect + since/for

If you don’t use since/for, the action has finished.
However, if you use since/for, the action is still happening (hasn’t stopped)

– examples

I have lived in Shanghai
(it has stopped; I don’t live there now)

I have lived in Shanghai for 5 years.
(it hasn’t stopped; I still live in Shanghai)

I have been to Beijing
(I am not there now)

I have been in Beijing since Tuesday
(I am still in Beijing)

I have studied English
(but am not studying now)

I have studied English for 27 years
(and am still studying)

Exercises

1. Which ones have finished, and which ones are still happening?

(i) I have been President.
I have been President for 25 years.
(ii) I have taken the bus to work.
I have taken the bus to work since 1942.
(iii) I have been married.
I have been married for too long.

2. Using ‘for’ or ‘since’, say how long you have been doing something (something you still do now) (example: I have studied English for 2 years)