Have, had or has been? (When to use the Perfect Tenses in English)
Have had or has been can be challenging to grasp, if you do not know how to use and apply the grammar rules in English. In this lesson we will go through an example of have, had and has been being used. Together we will anaylse why they are being used in these sentences and how you can use them when speaking in English.
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When to use: to have
I have a new car. The basic meaning of the verb have is “to be in the possession of something”. It is used in present simple, and it expresses a fact of having something in the present. When it comes to auxiliary verb “have”, we use it to form present perfect and present perfect continuous. I have gone to that show already. In this example, “have” is used as an auxiliary verb to form present perfect. Present perfect is a tense that connects past and the present. In this example, the person went to the show sometime in the past, but that is still valid in the present. Auxiliary verb “to have” is used to express that present through its present form. I have skipped breakfast today and now I’m hungry. In this example “have” is again used to form present perfect. Here it expresses a finished action in the past that has a result on the present – because the person in the example didn’t eat breakfast in the morning, in the present the person is hungry. To connect the two, present perfect is used and the verb “have” again serves as a signal of the present time by being in the present itself (by form). I have been going to the same cafe for 10 years. Auxiliary verb “to have” is also used to form present perfect continuous. The tense is used to express regularity of some action that started in the past, and continues to happen throughout some amount of time regularly and it is still true in the present. Auxiliary verb helps us to become aware of the present time of the action. I have been watching that show the whole day. In this example have is also used to form present perfect continuous. It expresses and action that started in the past, but was happening the whole time leading up to the present, and continues still. The present form of have reminds us of the present time of the action.
When to use Has been?
That china set has been in our family for year. In this example, we see another form of the verb “to have”. “Has” is the third person singular of the verb to have, used for pronouns he, she, it. In this example, we used it to form present perfect, and has functions the same as “have” – it contains and expresses the present time, connects the past and the present. He has been reading for the past two hours. In this example has is used to form present perfect continuous. It is used for the same pronouns, he, she or it, so, for the third person singular. As we said, as have and has are the same verbs, their function is the same – has also signaled the present for some action that started in the past, but continues up to the present. She has been running for half an hour without any pause. Has is again used to form present perfect continuous. It expresses an unfinished action that started up in the past continued to happen for some amount of time leading up to the present and is still true in the present.
When to use had been?
I had a dress like that, I don’t know where it is now. Verb “had” is the past form of the verb to have. It expresses the possession of something in the past, something someone had before, but no longer has, the action is completely in the past. He had studied English before he moved to New York. “Had” may also be used as an auxiliary verb to form past perfect. When we use past perfect, we express a past action that happened before some other past action, so past before the past. Auxiliary verb “had” signals the past by it past form. When it comes to had, it has the same form throughout all persons, so with he, she, it, we also use “had”, just like with all other person. I had gone to that school before I changed cities. In this example we are again faced with a past action that happened before some other past action. To express that, auxiliary verb “had” is used. He had been waiting there for more than 2 hours when she finally arrived. Auxiliary verb “had” is also used to form past perfect continuous. It expresses some past action that was happening for some time in the past, before some other past action happened. To sum up, we use auxiliary verb “have” to form present perfect and present perfect continuous. “Had” is the past form of “have”, and therefore it is used to form past perfect and past perfect continuous.
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