What is the Perfect Verb Tense? Definition Examples of Perfect Tense

Perfect tense definition: The perfect tense is a verb form that indicates a complete (“perfected”) action.

What is the Perfect Verb Tense?

What is perfect tense? The perfect tense literally means the “complete” tense. This is because it indicates an action that is finished.

The perfect tense often puts a focus on the present even if the event occurred in the past.

Prefect Tense Example:

  • I have finished my homework.

Even though finishing the homework is the completed action, the focus is on the fact that the action is done and that the speaker no longer has the homework obligation.

Prefect tense verbs The various perfect tenses include:

  • Past perfect
    • Past perfect progressive
  • Present perfect
    • Present perfect progressive
  • Future perfect
    • Future perfect progressive

Examples of the Perfect Tense

The three main perfect tenses are past perfect, present perfect, and future perfect, but the perfect tense also has its own progressive forms.

We have briefly outlined them all below.

Past Perfect Tense

What is a prefect tense What is the past perfect tense? The past perfect most often expresses actions in the past that finished before another action (also in the past) started.

To form the past perfect:

  • Subject + had + past participle of verb

The past perfect is used to express:

  • completed action before another begins (both in past)
    • After she had called the doctor, she felt much better about her symptoms.
  • conditional statements
    • If she had called the doctor, she would have felt better.
  • reported speech
    • My husband asked if I had called the doctor.
  • show dissatisfaction with the past
    • I wish I had called the doctor.

Present Perfect Tense

Present perfect tense examples What is the present perfect tense? The present perfect tense expresses actions that happened at time that is not specific and actions that started in the past but continue to the present.

To form the present perfect:

  • Subject + has/have + past participle of verb

The present perfect is used to express:

  • actions in the past of indefinite time
    • I have visited this museum.
  • actions that started in the past but continue to present
    • My father has mentioned that to her before.

Future Perfect Tense

Perfect tense English What is the future perfect tense? The future perfect tense expresses actions that will be finished at some point in the future.

To form the future perfect:

  • Subject + will have + past participle of verb

The future perfect is used to express:

  • actions that will be finished at some point
    • By the time your plane lands, we will have gone to sleep.
  • actions that occur in the future will continue beyond a certain point in the future
    • He will have studied in Paris for three years this spring.

Perfect Progressive Form

The perfect progressive tense is used for actions that were ongoing over a period of time in the past, ongoing actions from the past that continue in the present, or ongoing actions that will continue in the future.

Past Perfect Progressive Tense

Present perfect examples What is the past perfect progressive tense? The past perfect progressive most often expresses actions in the past that were in progress before other actions.

To form the past perfect progressive:

  • Subject + had been + present participle (and “-ing” to end of the verb)

The past perfect progressive is used to express:

  • Duration of a past action (only up to a certain end point)
    • The alarm had been sounding for five minutes before we called for help.
  • Showing cause of an action
    • They could not go to the park because it had been raining.
  • Conditional statements
    • If the sun had been shining, they could have gone to the park
  • Reported speech
    • They said it had been snowing.

Present Perfect Progressive Tense

What is a perfect tense verb What is the present perfect progressive tense? The present perfect progressive tense expresses actions that began in the past and continue to the present and actions that have recently stopped.

To form the present perfect progressive:

  • Subject + has/have+ been + present participle (and “-ing” to end of the verb)

The present perfect progressive is used to express:

  • actions that began in the past but continue to present
    • The children have been playing for thirty minutes.
  • actions that have recently stopped
    • You have been waiting for me.

Future Perfect Progressive Tense

Have had tenseWhat is the future perfect progressive tense? The future perfect progressive tense expresses ongoing actions that will be completed at a specific moment in the future.

To form the future perfect progressive:

  • Subject + will have been + present participle (and “-ing” to end of the verb)

The future perfect progressive is used to express:

  • actions that will have a specific timeframe in the future
    • In May, I will have been working as a teacher for 8 years.
    • She will have been reading for two hours by the time we go to bed.

Summary: What are the Perfect Tense?

Define perfect tense: the definition of perfect tense is the tense denoting completed actions; sometimes called the complete tense.

The perfect tense,

  • is an English verb form
  • expresses completed actions
  • is often used to explain actions with a specific timeframe