What is the Present Perfect?

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

What is the Present Perfect?

We use the present perfect in English to show that an action finishes about now or hasn’t finished yet.

It’s a very common verb form in English when we want to show that a process is ongoing


How to use the Present Perfect

We always make the present perfect using this form:

subject + have + verb in past



  • I have finished the report.
  • I have spoken to the client.
  • I haven’t received an email.


What is the Present Perfect used for in Business?

In business English, the present perfect is very common.

It is regularly used in the following situations:


1. If you need to report progress

If you are working on a project  and you’re boss asks you about progress, you’ll need to use the present perfect.



  • We’ve just completed the first milestone
  • We’ve already prepared the client presentation
  • We haven’t completed the cost projection yet


Vocabulary Focus

When using the present perfect to report progress, we often use just, already and yet

  • use just to show that something finished very recently
  • use already to show that something finished some time ago
  • use have + not + verb in past + yet to show that something is unfinished


Other Uses of the Present Perfect in Reports

The same language is also very useful when:

  • Reporting Results
  • Reporting Performance


2. Giving Feedback/Discipline

Sometimes, managers need to criticise or disipline their staff. The present perfect is really useful here because it allows us to show that behaviour started in the past and didn’t finish. By showing that behaviour is ongoing, we sound more reasonable when criticising.



  • You’ve missed your last three targets
  • You’ve been late three times this week
  • You haven’t met the deadline


3. Making Excuses

If our manager criticises us or gives us negative feedback, we can also use the present perfect to defend ourselves. Again, because the present perfect shows and ongoing situation, it makes powerful excuses



  • I’m sorry I missed the deadline but the sales department still haven’t sent me the information I need
  • I couldn’t complete the report because the printer has been broken all week
  • haven’t checked with the client because he hasn’t answered my emails



If you want to show that something has been a problem for a long time and is a problem today, you can say:

  • the sales department still hasn’t sent me the information


So, if you have to report progress, give negative feedback or make excuses, remember the present perfect.


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How are you?

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

How are you?

I’m sure anybody who has visited the UK or USA has heard this question and when your friend asks you, it’s very easy to answer. However, when shop assistants ask ‘how are you?’ it can be difficult to know how to respond.

In Anglo Saxon culture, asking ‘how are you’ is an important way of building relationships and trust. Not to ask is considered rude, even in a shop.

How you reply is really up to you but it’s worth considering ‘how many strokes a person is worth’ or how much value I place on building a relationship.

In a shop, the assistant and I owe each other one stroke, just to be polite. Therefore, this exchange is fine:

Shop Assistant:  How are you?

Me:  Fine thanks, and you?

Shop Assistant:  Good thanks

However, if my colleague asked me, I owe him more strokes because we have a closer relationship so our conversation would look more like:

Colleague:  How are you?

Me:  Good, looking forward to the weekend.

Colleague:  Oh really, what’re you doing?

Me:  No plans, just looking forward to taking it easy. What about you?

This conversation may also seem quite short but we are colleagues, not friends. We give more information but don’t have to go into too much detail, it’s just small talk. With a close friend, I would go into even more personal detail because a close friend is worth more strokes.

So remember, to decide the best way to reply to ‘how are you’, think about the strength of the relationship between you and your partner. ‘Fine thanks’ is appropriate for people you don’t know; like shop assistants, but you should give full answers to people you know well or get on with.