Study this example conversation:
Laura: Yes, I’ve been to lots of places.
Kevin: Really? Have you ever been to China?
Laura: Yes, I’ve been to China twice.
Kevin: What about India?
Laura: No, I haven’t been to India.
When we talk about a period of time that continues from the past until now, we use the present perfect (have been / have traveled etc.). Here, Kevin and Laura are talking about the places Laura has visited in her life (which is a period that continues until now).
- Have you ever eaten caviar? (in your life)
- We’ve never had a car.
- “Have you read Hamlet?” “No, I haven’t read any of Shakespeare’s plays.”
- We really love that film. We’ve seen it three times!
- What a boring film! It’s the most boring film we’ve ever seen.
In the following examples the speakers are talking about a period that continues until now (recently / in the last few days / so far / since breakfast etc.):
- Have you heard from Robert recently?
- He’s met a lot of people in the last few days.
- Everything is going well. We haven’t had any problems so far.
- I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten anything since breakfast. (= from breakfast until now)
- It’s nice to see you again. We haven’t seen each other for a long time.
We use the present perfect with today / this morning / this evening etc. when these periods are not finished at the time of speaking:
- I’ve drunk five cups of coffee today. (perhaps I’ll drink more before today is finished)
- Have you had a holiday this year (yet)?
- I haven’t seen Daniel this morning. Have you?
- David hasn’t worked very hard this term.
Note that we say “it’s the first time something has happened” (present perfect). For example:
- It’s the first time he has driven a car. (not “drives”)
or He has never driven a car before.
- Carol has lost her passport again. It’s the second time this has happened. (not “happens”)
- This is a lovely meal. It’s the first good meal I’ve had for ages. (not “I have”)
- Brian is phoning his girlfriend again. That’s the third time he’s phoned her this morning.