Present Perfect Definition 2: The meaning of “perfect”

Let’s refer to the Latin dictionary:

perfectus, perfecta, perfectum

Translation (definition): complete

It means that the Present Perfect denotes a completed action (or a completed inaction, yes, it sounds weird, but a “completed inaction” means that an action didn’t start at all and, of course, it wasn’t completed, which is usually expressed by a negative construction). You can even say Present Completed, or if it’s a negative sentence, you could say “Present Uncompleted” 🙂 thought they are not the official names, remember, all tense names presume a positive sentence and an action (vs inaction) as a basis in the naming convention:

She hasn’t done it yet.

The fact that it’s a negative sentence doesn’t make the name of the tense “Present Imperfect” 🙂

A few more examples expressing completeness of an action:

What have you learned so far / by now?

Have you already completed your homework?

He has already mailed her back


In a nutshell (exceptions may apply)

We use Present Perfect when we have something that shows us completeness of an action (“Perfect” means complete):

so far / by now, already, yet

More on Present Perfect:

Back to: Present Perfect Tense

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