Many English learners struggle to understand the present perfect tense. It doesn’t exist in many other languages, so it is difficult to remember when to use it in English. It is easier to understand the present perfect tense if you can remember the different situations in which it can be used.
You can use the present perfect to talk about your life experiences: places you have visited and things you’ve done in the past. I will explain this in three parts:
Have you ever been to … ?
You can use the present perfect to talk about a place, city or country you have visited or travelled to. The present perfect is used to talk about IF, at any point in your life in the past, you have visited or travelled to a specific place. The present perfect is NOT used to talk about WHEN you did something. It is used to talk about IF you did something!
Have you ever been to Rome, Italy?
I’ve been to Rome (once, twice, etc.).
I’ve been there (once, twice, etc.).
I haven’t been to Italy.
I haven’t been there.
I’ve never been to Rome.
I’ve never been there.
I’ve ever been to Rome.
I’ve been to there.
I’ve been to Rome in 2005.
I’ve never been in Rome.
- Ever is NOT used in statements. It is only used in questions with the present perfect.
- It is common in English to use the verb be to talk about places you have visited or travelled to. ‘Visit’ or ‘travel’ is more formal.
- Prepositions do not always translate from your language into English. The preposition to is used with ‘be’ in the present perfect. There is no specific reason why we use ‘to’ here. That’s just the way English is!
I’ve been to Australia.
She’s been to 45 out of the 50 states in America.
- If you want to say WHEN you did something, use the simple past:
Have you ever been to Rome?
~ Yes, I’ve been to Rome! I went to Rome in 2005.