TOEFL IBT – Perfect Aspect & Perfect Progressive Aspect

The perfect aspect can be divided into three tenses: past perfect, present perfect, and future perfect. The perfect progressive aspect (also called perfect continuous) can be divided into three tenses as well: past perfect progressive, present perfect progressive, and future perfect progressive.

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Past Perfect

The past perfect tense is used to show that one event happened before another. It refers to a time that has already passed. The past perfect is formed from the past tense of the verb have (had) + the past participle of the main verb (the en/ed/ne form).

Examples

In the following examples, Event 1 has already begun and ended before Event 2 takes place.

Event 1                                                            Event 2

Ansue had finished her homework                before I got home.

Event 1                                                            Event 2

Had you already done the dishes                   before we arrived?

Event 2                                                            Event 1

By the time we arrived,                                  everyone had already finished eating.

Event 2                                                            Event 1

When I woke up,                                             I felt that I hadn’t slept well.

Regular Verbs – Past Perfect

 Affirmative  Negative  Interrogative
 I had danced  I had not danced  Had I danced?
 You had danced  You had not danced  Had you danced?
 He/she/it had danced  He/she/it had not danced  Had he/she/it danced?
 We had danced  We had not danced  Had we danced?
 You had danced  You had not danced  Had you danced?
 They had danced  They had not danced  Had they danced?

Tips:

  • Be careful: Although this tense may resemble a tense in your home language, the meanings are probably NOT the same!
  • Use the past perfect + just to express an event that happened only a short time earlier before now.
    • The plane had just left when I arrived at the gate.

Present Perfect

The present perfect tense is used to link a time in the past to the present. It describes an action that happened sometime before now. It is formed with the present tense of the verb have (have/has) + the past participle of the main verb (the en/ed/ne form).

Examples

A situation that began in the past and continues in the present:

  • I have lived in New York for 20 years.
  • She has worked for the same company since she moved here.

An action performed in a certain period of time that has not ended yet:

  • She has already gone to the gym three times this week.
  • It has snowed a lot this winter.

A repeated action between the past and now:

  • We have been to Canada every year since then.
  • She has eaten there only once.

An action completed in the recent past:

  • I have just left work.
  • They have just arrived.

When the time of the action is unknown or unimportant:

  • Have you ever seen “Citizen Kane”?
  • Someone has broken my car window!

Regular Verbs – Present Perfect

 Affirmative  Negative  Interrogative
 I have danced  I have not danced  Have I danced?
 You have danced  You have not danced  Have you danced?
 He/she/it has danced  He/she/it has not danced  Has he/she/it danced?
 We have danced  We have not danced  Have we danced?
 You have danced  You have not danced  Have you danced?
 They have danced  They have not danced  Have they danced?

Tip:

  • The auxiliary (in this case, to have) is always have, EXCEPT in the third person singular (he/she/it has gone).

Future Perfect

The future perfect tense refers to an action that will have been completed sometime in the future. To form this tense, use the modal will + the auxiliary verb have + the past participle of the main verb (the en/ed/ne form).

Examples

  • I will have been here for three months on December 5th.
  • She will have arrived by the time you finish cooking.
  • Will you have had dinner when I pick you up?
  • By this time next week, we will have finished our group project.
  • Do you think you will have sold your apartment by this time next year?

Regular Verbs – Future Perfect

 Affirmative  Negative  Interrogative
 I will have danced  I will not have danced  Will I have danced?
 You will have danced  You will not have danced  Will you have danced?
 He/she/it will have danced  He/she/it will not have danced  Will he/she/it have danced?
 We will have danced  We will not have danced  Will we have danced?
 You will have danced  You will not have danced  Will you have danced?
 They will have danced  They will not have danced  Will they have danced?

Tip:

  • The future perfect tense is usually used with a time expression.
  • Be sure to notice the word order compared to the other tenses.
    • Present Perfect:          We have not danced.
    • Future Perfect:            We will not have danced.

Past Perfect Progressive

The past perfect progressive tense is used to describe an action that was completed at some point in the past. It is formed with the past tense of the verb have (had) + been + the present participle of the main verb (ending in –ing).

Examples

  • I had been sleeping when the doorbell rang.
  • Had he been depressed before he met his new girlfriend?
  • They had been waiting for an hour when help finally arrived.

Regular Verbs – Past Perfect Progressive

 Affirmative  Negative  Interrogative
 I had been dancing  I had not been dancing  Had I been dancing?
 You had been dancing  You had not been dancing  Had you been dancing?
 He/she/it had been dancing  He/she/it had not been dancing  Had he/she/it been dancing?
 We had been dancing  We had not been dancing  Had we been dancing?
 You had been dancing  You had not been dancing  Had you been dancing?
 They had been dancing  They had not been dancing  Had they been dancing?

Tip:

  • There is no past perfect progressive for the verb to be! (ex. I had been being)

Present Perfect Progressive

The present perfect progressive tense is used to describe an action that has started in the past and is still going on. The action is usually of a limited duration. This tense is formed with the present tense of the verb have (have/has) + been + the present participle of the main verb (ending in –ing).

Examples

  • I have been doing my homework for almost three hours.
  • Has he been eating his vegetables?
  • They have been losing games since the start of the season.

Regular Verbs – Present Perfect Progressive

 Affirmative  Negative  Interrogative
 I have been dancing  I have not been dancing  Have I been dancing?
 You have been dancing  You have not been dancing  Have you been dancing?
 He/she/it has been dancing  He/she/it has not been dancing  Has he/she/it been dancing?
 We have been dancing  We have not been dancing  Have we been dancing?
 You have been dancing  You have not been dancing  Have you been dancing?
 They have been dancing  They have not been dancing  Have they been dancing?

Tip:

  • There is no present perfect progressive for the verb to be! (ex. I have been being)

Future Perfect Progressive

The future perfect progressive tense is used to describe a continuous action that will be completed sometime in the future. It is formed with the modal will + the auxiliary verb have + been + the present participle of the main verb (ending in –ing).

Examples

  • This time next year, I will have been searching for a job for two years.
  • When I arrive, will you have been cooking for a long time?
  • At 5:00, I will have been waiting for two hours.

Regular Verbs – Future Perfect Progressive

 Affirmative  Negative  Interrogative
 I will have been dancing  I will not have been dancing  Will I have been dancing?
 You will have been dancing  You will not have been dancing  Will you have been dancing?
 He/she/it will have been dancing  He/she/it will not have been dancing  Will he/she/it have been dancing?
 We will have been dancing  We will not have been dancing  Will we have been dancing?
 You will have been dancing  You will not have been dancing  Will you have been dancing?
 They will have been dancing  They will not have been dancing  Will they have been dancing?

Tips:

  • There is no future perfect progressive for the verb to be! (ex. I will have been being)

Pour vous aider dans votre préparation TOEFL, nous avons conçu des fiches de révisions grammaire TOEFL spécifiques à l’examen. Nous vous conseillons de consulter les fiches en anglais pour vous mettre en immersion dans la langue. Cependant pour les apprenants qui auraient plus de difficultés nous avons également conçu des fiches en français.

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