These present perfect activities cover the different uses of the tense for talking about past experiences, recently completed actions, past actions connected to the present etc.
Present Perfect – Past Participles
Present perfect crossword
50 top verb cards
Give pairs or threes of students a set of Top 50 Verb Cards. Ask them to write what they think is the past participle of the verb on the back of the card. As they are doing the end of the task, go around the groups and check the cards which have been written and put a line through any that are wrong. Have the learners continue to submit the cards until they all have the correct form on the back.
Now have the groups place their deck of cards face up on the desk. They should take it in turns to take the top card and make a present perfect sentence using the verb. If they can’t remember the past participle then they can turn over the card to check. Continue until all the cards have been used.
Present Perfect – Unfinished Time / Life Experience
How long have you …?
This is a great present perfect speaking activity for practising the question form as well as for/since answers. Students ask each other do you …? questions and attempt to elicit a positive answer and then they follow up with a how long have you …? question.
Do you have a dog?
– Yes, I do
How long have you had a dog?
– for about 5 years
Have you … this week?
Divide the board into two and write finished-time at the top of one section and unfinished-time at the top of the other. Read out the finished and unfinished time phrases and have students tell you which side of the board to write them. You can add further examples to each side.
Elicit examples of questions which can be asked for each side, i.e., past simple and present perfect.
Give pairs of learners a set of unfinished-time phrases. They should take it in turns to take a card and then ask their partner a present perfect question which they think will elicit a positive answer. For example, today: have you cleaned your teeth today?
In the following class repeat the exercise but with the finished-time phrases added to the deck thus forcing learners to switch tenses depending on the phrase.
Stand up if you’ve ever/never …
One of my favourite games to play, this activity encourages students to talk about their life experiences and often reveals interesting stories.
Before you play, you can use this handout as a more controlled practice and refresh activity.
The aim of the game is to be the only person standing by sharing life experiences and inviting other students to stand if they’ve also had the same experience.
First, demonstrate the game using some examples from your own life. For example:
- Stand up if you’ve ever flown in a helicopter.
- Stand up if you’ve ever been to Disneyland
- Stand up if you’ve never eaten a hamburger
If you manage to be the only person standing for one of your examples, you would get a point.
Now, give the learners five to ten minutes to think of three experiences from their own lives which they can use in the game.
Write the name or initials of each student on the board in a line on the board. This is where you will keep track of the points total for each player.
The first player makes their first stand up if… statement and gets to their feet. If they are the only student standing they get a point. Mark the point on the board under their name and move on to the next player.
Go round the class two or three times and make sure to encourage questions about some of the stories as you uncover them.
The winner is the student with the most points under their name at the end.
Talking about trends – with graphs
Draw four simple charts on the board. One showing an upward trend, one a downward trend, one fluctuating, and one steady.
In turn, elicit possible language to describe each trend. For example, gone up, risen, increased, fallen, dropped, gone up and down, remained steady, etc.
Give examples from your city and have students tell you how things have changed over the last ten years.
– rent prices have gone up
– wages have gone down
You could also ask about: the cost of living, number of tourists, number of students, pollution, amount of cars / bicycles / scooters.
Now, ask them to think of examples from their own lives and write four or five sentences. Make sure to go over the correct usage of for & since before they start writing.
This is a mingling activity. Students circulate with a question sheet and ask questions to find people who have had a particular life experience.
After reviewing Present Perfect for life experiences. We have two sets of fun conversation cards from our conversation questions section.
Present Perfect – Connection to the Present
Just, already and still
Give students some scenarios and challenge to write sentences using just, already and yet.
Use one of the following situations, for example, Dave has a new job and elicit some ideas. They might include:
He hasn’t met his boss yet.
He’s already made some friends.
He’s just learnt how to use the coffee machine.
- Dave has a new job
- Bill and Angela got married last month
- Patrice moved into her new home last week
- We moved to England last year
Present perfect problems
This short and simple activity is designed to draw attention to the connection to the present moment. I often underline the word present when giving an overview of the present perfect tense.
Give students this list of work problems. Students complete the problems using the present perfect form and must explain what the connection to the present is and talk about possible solutions.
Present Perfect Picture Set
Students view a slideshow of present perfect pictures and offer explanations as to what has (just) happened in each photo.
I find that translation activities can be quite useful if you have a class of monolingual speakers.
As a grammar activity, I write down some sentences in the students’ native language that would logically, usually be translated into the target form I am aiming for. Then I get the students to attempt to translate the sentences into English.
Here are ten sentences I use for Present Perfect.
How long have you known John?
I’ve been here for five years.
I’ve never seen Game of Thrones.
I haven’t eaten yet.
Have you ever been to India?
Have you sent the documents to Tom?
Nobody has seen Jennifer for weeks.
Her English has improved since she moved to Scotland.
I think I’ve already seen this episode.
It hasn’t stopped raining for three days.
For example, here is a German present perfect grammar-translation activity.