"Perfect" Tenses in English

What does "perfect" mean in English grammar?

3 Things to Know about "Perfect" in English Grammar


(1) Perfect comes from the Latin perfectum, which simply means “complete.”

(2) Perfect tenses focus on how actions completed during a fixed time period affect the time afterward.


(3) In English, there are "perfect" verb tenses of two types: the participle (-ed if regular) and continuous (-ing) for the past, present, and future.

The Perfect Tenses with Participles


Present Perfect: I have eaten, so now I'm not hungry.


Past Perfect: I had eaten at 11am, so I wasn't hungry when the pizza arrived at noon.


Future Perfect: When the pizza arrives at noon, I will have eaten my sandwich, so I won't be hungry.



The Continuous Perfect Tenses


"Perfect continuous" refers to actions ending in -ing which are either ongoing or repeated but, like perfect actions, begin and end during a fixed time period. They can be in the past, present, or future.


Present Perfect Continuous: I have been eating throughout the morning, so now I'm not hungry for lunch.


Past Perfect Continuous: I had been eating throughout the morning, so I wasn't hungry when the pizza arrived at noon.


Future Perfect Continuous: Tomorrow I will have been eating throughout the morning and won't be hungry when the pizza arrives at noon.


Thanks for reading. We have enjoyed bringing you this lesson on the perfect tenses. See you next week.

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