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Present Perfect Tense - Asking About Unfinished Actions

We can use the present perfect in a few ways. One of the most common ways is to talk about unfinished actions. These are things or actions that started in the past but are not finished.

Compare the two sentences below.
  1. I have worked at Company X for 5 years.
  2. I worked at Company X for 5 years.
Sentence 1 uses the present perfect. So, it means that "I have worked at Company X for 5 years, and I still work there".

Sentence 2 uses the past tense. So, it means that "I worked at Company X for 5 years, and I do not work there now".

In the previous lesson, we studied how to make sentences. In this lesson, we will study how to make all of the questions we use when talking about unfinished actions with the present perfect tense.

Before we begin, remember that we use a special verb form with the present perfect. We use the past participle. Some past participles are the same as past tense verbs, but some are different. We need to memorize these words.

Base FormPast SimplePast Participle
seesawseen
growgrewgrown
buyboughtbought
talktalkedtalked

The most common question related to unfinished actions in the present tense is the following.

How long + have/has + subject + past participle...?

When you hear this kind of question, you can answer with the sentences that we studied in the previous lesson. Do not use the words "for" or "since" for this questions. However, we can use "for" or "since" when we answer these questions.

A) How long have you worked here?
B) I've worked here for 5 years.

A) How long has she played the violin?
B) She has played the violin since she was a little girl.

A) How long has the restaurant been open?
B) The restaurant has been open since 8 am.

Here are some more example questions.
  • How long have you been married?
  • How long has he studied English?
  • How long have they run their own business?
  • How long has it been broken?
  • How long have you been interested in boxing?
Next, we can also yes/no questions by putting "Have/Has" first.

Have/Has + subject + past participle...?

It is common to use "for" and "since" in these questions.
  • Have you played the piano for a long time?
  • Has he been here for more than one hour?
  • Has she worked here since 2015?
  • Have they talked since the party?
We can also use question words besides "how".

Question Word + have/has + subject + past participle...?
  • What have you done since the last time I saw you?
  • What has she accomplished since she joined the company?
  • What have they done for the past 3 hours?
  • What countries have they visited since they left?
Example Questions
  • How long have you been married to her?
  • How long have you studied English at this school?
  • How long has she been angry with you?
  • How long has he been in the bathroom?
  • How long has your boss worked here?
  • How long have they been friends?
  • How long have Bill and Jon been in China?
  • How long have you been interested in finance?
  • How long has done yoga?
  • How long has he slept?

  • Have you been here for a long time?
  • Have you worked at this company for more than 3 years?
  • Has she been involved in this club for a long time?
  • Have you known him since you were young?
  • Has the company been located here since 1999?
  • Has she participated in this program for the last 3 months?
  • Has she attended any classes since last week?

  • What countries have you visited since 2010?
  • Where have you been since this morning?
  • What have you done since I saw you last?
  • Why have you not come to English class for 2 weeks?
  • What meetings has Nick attended since last week?
  • How have you been since the last time I saw you?
  • How have you been?
  • How has he been recently?
English Conversation 1

A) How long have you played the guitar?
B) I've played the guitar for about 6 months.
A) How are you so good?
B) Well, I've played the violin and cello since I was a little girl. So, I have some experience with string instruments.
A) That makes sense.

English Conversation 2

A) Hello Sam. Have you been here for long?
B) I just got here. I've been here for less than 5 minutes.
A) Okay, good. I thought I was late. So, how have you been these days?
B) I've been great. How have you been?
A) I've been very good. Thanks for asking.

Improve your English and learn to speak fluently with this simple practice. Finish the questions below and then practice making your own questions. It is the best way to learn English fast!

Tip: Say the questions aloud. This will help you practice speaking English and improve your English fluency.

How long have you _______________?
How long has she _______________?
How long have you _______________ since _______________?
How long has he _______________ since _______________?
Have you _______________ for _______________?
Has she _______________ since _______________?
What have you done since _______________?
Where have you gone since _______________?

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