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Chris Lele

New SAT Video: Using the Present Perfect Tense

The good news with the New SAT is you don’t need to know the name of tenses—you just have to be able to recognize them. To spot the present perfect just be on the look out for HAS/HAVE + Participle:
 

    I have lived here for 10 years.

 

    She has proven time and time again that she is a good worker.

 

    After months of deliberations, we have decided to move to France.

 

    Bob has bought the exact same pair of shoes many times before.

 

But why do these sentences use this tense? Why not a different tense? Well, compare the sentence below:
 

    Bob bought the exact same pair of shoes when we went to the mall yesterday.

 

    Bob buys the exact same pair of shoes every time he goes to the Sports Basement.

 

    Bob has bought the exact same pair of shoes many times before.

 

If you notice, the difference is about time. And that’s really what tenses are: they indicate the time or interval of time in which something happened.

The first sentence describes what happened at exactly one point in the past: yesterday. For such occasions, we use simple past. It could be last year, two hours ago, or during the Cretaceous period, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. If it is an action that happened once in the past, we use the simple past.
 

    The brontosaurus batted its scaly lids at a nearby pterodactyl.

 

    Last year, Amanda bicycled from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

 

But what if an action started in the past and continues to this day? For that situation, we need a different tense. And that tense is the present perfect tense. Think of it as the “ongoing tense”. Now, let’s revisit the original four sentences at the top.
 

    I have lived here for 10 years. I moved to a city 10 years ago and I continue to live there.

 

    She has proven time and time again that she is a good worker. She was and continues to be a good worker.

 

    After months of deliberations, we have decided to move to France. This one is a little subtler. The “deciding” has happened but since the people still haven’t moved to France they are technically still in the deciding phase.

 

    Bob has bought the exact same pair of shoes many times before. Yes, Bob again. He bought the pair of sneakers a year ago, six months ago, and two months ago. And the tense implies that he will buy the same shoes again. What is up with this Bob fellow!?

 

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About Chris Lele

Chris Lele is the GRE and SAT Curriculum Manager (and vocabulary wizard) at Magoosh Online Test Prep. In his time at Magoosh, he has inspired countless students across the globe, turning what is otherwise a daunting experience into an opportunity for learning, growth, and fun. Some of his students have even gone on to get near perfect scores. Chris is also very popular on the internet. His GRE channel on YouTube has over 8 million views.

You can read Chris's awesome blog posts on the Magoosh GRE blog and High School blog!

You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook!


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