Marc Marc

Present perfect lesson
Intermediate level


In this lesson, students will learn about using the present perfect to talk about past experiences. They will use this tense to ask and answer general questions about the past, which will hopefully enable them to understand the contrast with the more specific time reference of the past simple. This will be followed by a jigsaw reading exercise, in which they will encounter some of the different time expressions.


Abc Grammar questions handout
Abc Gap-fill handout
Abc Whiteboard

Main Aims

  • To use the present perfect with 'ever' and contrast it with the past simple and different time expressions.

Subsidiary Aims

  • To extract information from a short text.


Lead-in (7-9 minutes) • To introduce different tenses

The teacher writes two sentences on the whiteboard: 'I have seen you before' and 'I saw you on Tuesday'. The students are asked what the difference is between the two. The difference is illustrated by drawing a time-line, pointing out that the past simple was used to describe a specific point in time, whereas the present perfect simple can be used without a precise time reference. Other examples can briefly be mentioned to further underline this point, but don't have to be written on the board.

Matching exercise (8-9 minutes) • To illustrate how the present perfect simple + 'ever' can be used to ask about past experiences.

The students receive the handout and the teacher points out the examples at the top left corner of how we can use the present perfect simple. Using similar examples, explain how we can use this tense to ask someone about their experiences in the past, by saying 'Have you ever? '. The teacher demonstrates the first question and makes sure the students phrase their answer correctly. Then the students are divided into pairs to match the remaining phrases. The answers are checked with the whole group, allowing students to offer suggestions and corrections, and the class is asked what 'ever' means in these questions.

Matching tenses (7-8 minutes) • To have students use the present perfect simple in answering questions.

The students are asked which of the answers given in exercise 2 can be used as a response to the type of questions in the previous exercise. The teacher should first give an example and then the students, working in pairs, should take turns asking each other the earlier questions. The teacher monitors that they use the correct tense in answering.

Time expressions (8-10 minutes) • To familiarize students with using different time expressions and contrasting past simple with present perfect simple.

As a group, go over the different sentences and have the students fill in the gaps with the correct time expression. After filling this in, the teacher draws attention to the last sentence and asks the class why this sentence is different. This sentence is used to illustrate how we use past simple with specific times/finished activities ('in 2004', 'last May', 'three weeks ago'). Ask the students which sentences are true for them and make sure they answer in the correct form.

Jigsaw reading (9-10 minutes) • To have students ask for specific information based on text comprehension.

Divide the students into pairs, giving one text A and one text B, and have them face each other so that can't read each others text and have to ask questions. Have them fill in the gaps in their text, but make sure they understand they should take turns in asking their questions. Monitor to make sure the students ask full questions, not just 'next answer'. Briefly discuss correct answers at the end and discuss possible difficulties students ran into.

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