Present Perfect: The meaning of “perfect” in the name of the tense

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 action wasn’t completed, action just didn’t take place, which is usually expressed by a negative construction). If it makes sense to you , you can say Present Completed, or if it’s a negative sentence, you could say “Present Uncompleted” 🙂 thought the are not the official names, remember, all tense names presume a positive sentence and action (vs inaction):

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

What have you learnt so far / by now?

other examples expressing completeness:

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:

so far / by now, already, yet

Back to: Present Perfect Tense

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