Present perfects Episode
„Stevie, I haven’t slept in a year.” – The Machinist
Trevor Reznik has been working in a factory for years. He suffers from severe insomnia and he hasn’t slept in a year. He is with Stevie, a call girl. We don’t know exactly how long they’ve been together.
Trevor has a contentious relationship with his supervisor and his co-workers. He hasn’t played card and he hasn’t gone out with them recently. He doesn’t socialize the way he used to…
One day after work, Trevor goes out for a smoke where he meets with Ivan, a new worker. Back on shift, he helps to his co-worker Miller fixing a machine. Accidentally, he turns on the machine and it cuts off Miller’s arm.
When his boss asks him what’s happened he says Ivan distracted him. As it turns out, they don’t have any employees named Ivan.
Later, in the car park, Trevor sees Ivan leaving in his red sports car and follows him. They go into a bar where they engage in conversation. Trevor confronts Ivan with the fact that no one at the factory has ever heard of him. Ivan insists that he does indeed work there. Back at work, Trevor’s colleagues are angry with him and they don’t trust him anymore.
Next day he meets with Miller who tells Trevor that although he has seen better days, he is very happy with the financial compensation the company has awarded him. Later, Trevor almost gets into an accident himself, which nearly costs his arm.
After some more strange events, Trevor is starting to believe there is a conspiracy against him….
So what is the truth? What happened a year ago? What has caused his insomnia? Is he really crazy or are his workmates playing a game with him? Is he still normal or has he lost his mind?
Present Perfect Simple
To make the positive present perfect tense, use:
- ‘have’ / ‘has’ + the past participle
- Make the past participle by adding ‘-ed’ to regular verbs (for example, ‘play’ becomes ‘played’)
- There are a few verbs that change their spelling when you add ‘-ed’ (for example, ‘study’ becomes ‘studied’)
- And there are some completely irregular verbs – the bad news is that you have to learn these I am afraid.
Subject + have/has + past participle.
Miller has seen better days.
Subject + have/has + not + past participle.
Trevor Reznik hasn’t slept in a year.
(Question word – if there is one) + have/has + subject + past participle?
What has caused his insomnia?
Has he lost his mind?
This tense is probably the most difficult to understand. We use this tense when we want to talk about unfinished actions that started in the past and continue to the present. Usually, we use it to say ‘how long’ an action or state has continued with ‘since’ and ‘for’. Often, we use stative verbs (see the present continuous episode) in this situation:
- We don’t know exactly how long they’ve been together.
(We don’t say when the experience happened, just sometime in the past)
- Miller has seen better days.
- Miller has visited his doctor three times.
- Have you ever heard of Ivan?
- No one at the company has ever heard of Ivan.
A finished action with a result in the present (focus on result):
- The company has awarded Miller with a financial compensation. (So, although he lost his arm, he is happy with the money he received.)
- Stevie has cooked dinner for Travis. (So he should go and eat, dinner is ready.)
With an unfinished time word (this year/month/week/afternoon etc., today, in the last year) :
- He hasn’t slept this year.
- Trevor has already visited Marie today.
We use the present perfect to give new information. But if we continue to talk about it, we normally use the past simple:
- – What’s happened? (What ’has’ happened, NOT ’is’!)
– Ivan distracted me!
- – OW! I’ve cut my arm!
– How did you do that?
Present Perfect Continuous
Subject + have/has + been + ‘verb –ing.’
Trevor Reznik has been working in a factory for years.
Subject + have/has + been + ‘verb –ing.’
Trevor Reznik hasn’t been working in a factory for years.
(Question word – if there is one) + have/ has + subject + been + ‘verb –ing’?
Has Trevor been working in a factory for years?
Where has Trevor been working for years?
The main difference between the present perfect simple (PPS) and the present perfect continuous (PPC) is that while the PPS focuses on the result, PPC focuses on the action itself.
There are two main instances we use this tense.
The first is, to say how long for unfinished actions which started in the past and continue to the present. We often use this with for and since. (See the present perfect above for the same use with stative verbs)
- Trevor Reznik has been working in a factory for years.
- He’s been living in Sacramento for twenty years.
- Stevie has been waiting for Trevor for hours.
The second is when the action has just stopped and have a result, which we can often see, hear, or feel, in the present (focus on action).
- Trevor is really tired, he’s been working all day.
THINGS TO NOTICE
Compare the present tenses in this short story:
Trevor works in a factory. He is a machinist. He has been a machinist for years and he has worked a lot lately. Actually, he is working right now and he is pretty tired because he has been working all day.
Present Simple: Trevor works in a factory. He is a machinist.
(This is his workplace and job in general.)
Present continuous: Trevor is working in the factory at moment.
(Now, he is working.)
Present perfect: Trevor has been a machinist for years. He has worked a lot lately.
(In the first sentence our main verb is BE and it is usually stative, so we can’t normally use continuous tense. (See exceptions in the Present continuous episode (He is driving a cab).)
However, you can say:
Trevor has been working as a machinist for years. Here the main verb is ‘work’, which is dynamic so you can use it.
In the second sentence, it is still this week – unfinished time world- and we are focusing on the result.
Present perfect continuous: Trevor has been working all day.
(We are thinking of the activity, it doesn’t matter whether it has been finished or not.)
‘Since’ and ‘For’
We use ‘since’ with a fixed time in the past (2015, August 21st, last year, three hours ago). The fixed time can be another action, indicated with the past simple (since I was at school, since I arrived):
- He hasn’t slept since 2003.
We use ‘for’ with a period of time (4 hours, 5 years, 6 months):
- He hasn’t slept for a year.
If we want to tell the length of time a person has NOT done something, then we can use either ‘for’ or ‘in’.
- He hasn’t slept in a year.
We use ‘been’ (often when we talk about ‘life experience’) to mean that the person being talked about has visited the place, and come back.
Notice the preposition ‘to’:
- Travis has been to New York (in his life, but now he’s in Sacramento, where he lives).
- He has been to the airport today (but now she’s back at home).
- Stevie has never been to Japan.
We use ‘gone’ (often when we are talking about an action with a result in the present) to mean that the person is at the place now:
- ‘Where’s Trevor?’ ‘He’s gone to the factory’ (he’s at the factory now).
- Miller has gone to Hospital (now he’s in hospital).
‘s: is or has? (Contraction)
He’s a machinist. He’s tired. – IS + noun/ adjective (present simple with ‘be’)
He’s working now. – IS + verb-ing (present continuous)
He’s worked all day. – HAS + past participle (present perfect simple)
He’s been working all day. – HAS + been + verb-ing (present perfect continuous)
Note: What happened a year ago? We use past simple with a finished time word – as you will see it in my next episode. (So we can't use the present perfect such case)
Note: we can't use the present perfect continuous with stative verbs. - I’ve been knowing you since 2003. -> I have known you since 2003.
VOCABULARY, PHRASES, COLLOCATIONS, IDIOMS, PHRASAL VERBS
Done or experienced in the past, but no longer done or experienced (we’ll cover it later in more depth).
By chance or by mistake.
Phrasal verb (with many meanings); here it means: to cause, to begin the operation or activity.
Phrasal verb (with many meanings); here it means to be known or discovered finally and surprisingly.
Engage in conversation:
(phrasal verb/ collocation) to start having a conversation with someone.
‘He does indeed work’:
In this sentence, ‘does’ is used to add emphasis to the main verb, that is, to make the expression or feeling stronger. So here, do functions as an emphatic auxiliary.
Angry with someone:
having a strong feeling against someone who has behaved badly, making you want to shout at them or hurt them. Angry also collocates with the prepositions ‘at’ and ‘about’.
Happy + possible prepositions:
Be happy with – He is very happy with the financial compensation. (We use this when someone is satisfied with something he/she possesses or has experienced)
You can also use:
Be happy for – I hear you are getting married. I am really happy for you! To be pleased because something good has happened to someone else.
Be happy about – I am not too happy about her attitude. If you want to express that someone is (not) pleased/glad by some news/things.
To get into an accident:
To become involved in an accident.
Check your knowledge
Make the present perfect (positive, negative, question)
Trevor/ not/ sleep/ in a year.
Miller/ see/ better days.
He/ lose/ his mind?
Stevie and Trevor/ be/ together/ for years.
What/ cause/ his insomnia?
Miller/ visit/ his doctor/ three times this week.
Marie/ not/ cook/ dinner for Travis.
No one/ ever/ hear/ of Ivan.
You/ ever/ hear/ of Ivan?
The company/ award/ Miller/ after the accident.
Engage ............ conversation
Which preposition goes with the adjective 'angry' naturally?
Which preposition does NOT go with the word 'happy' naturally?
What does 'used to' mean?