Stage 1: Present examples
Before the lesson, prepare some sentences about your life. Some of these sentences should be true and some false. Include surprising facts, regular and irregular verbs, negative examples and time phrases.
Examples might include:
- I have ridden a camel.
- I haven’t visited Rwanda.
- I have never watched a basketball game.
- I’ve been married since 2010.
- I’ve met the President three times. He has also sent me a letter!
- I’ve been a teacher for eight years.
Write them on the board and say: ‘Here are some sentences about my life. Work in groups of three or four. Discuss and decide which you think are true and which are false.’
Take feedback on each sentence and share more information using the past simple. For example:
For sentence 1: ‘It’s true. A few years ago I went to Egypt and I rode a camel. It was very funny because …’
For sentence 4: ‘It’s false. Although I am married, I got married in 2012, so how long have I been married?’ Write the question on the board.
Say: ‘These sentences include the present perfect. Look at the sentences and discuss these questions in your groups.’
Write these questions on the board.
- What are all these sentences about?
- Do you know when all these things happened?
- Which verb is in every sentence?
- Make a list of the regular and irregular verbs.
- How do we make the negative (two ways)?
- What time phrases can we use?
To help learners, you could:
- underline the verb forms, e.g. He has also sent me a letter!
- point out the difference between auxiliary verbs (‘has’/‘have’) and main verbs (past participle, e.g. ‘ridden’).
Stage 2: Take feedback
Ask learners to share their feedback on what they have noticed in the example sentences. Here are some key points you might want to share with them or write on the board.
We use present perfect to talk about our life experiences up to now. We are more interested in if it happened, not when it happened. As soon as we say when it happened, we start to use past simple, e.g. I got married in 2012.
The form is ‘have’/‘has’ + past participle, e.g. I have ridden a camel. He has sent me a letter.
Many verbs are irregular, e.g. ‘be’/‘been’, ‘meet’/‘met’, ‘send’/‘sent’ – learners need to remember these. Also, compare the use of ‘been’ and ‘gone’:
- I’ve been to the supermarket (= went and returned)
- She’s gone to her grandmother’s. She won’t be back until next week (= has not returned).
The question form: ‘Have’ + subject + past participle, e.g. How long have I been married? The question ‘Have you ever?’ is also commonly used, e.g. Have you ever met the President?
The negative form: ‘Have/has never’ or ‘have/has not’, e.g. I haven’t visited Rwanda.
Contractions are common such as ‘I’ve’, ‘haven’t’, ‘hasn’t’, ‘he’s’. Note: ‘She’s’ = ‘she has’, not ‘she is’.
‘How long?’, ‘for’ and ‘since’ are commonly used with present perfect. For example:
- How long have I been married?
- I’ve been married since 2010.
- I’ve been a teacher for 8 years.
We cannot use specific past time phrases, like ‘yesterday’ or ‘last week’, with the present perfect. However, we can use time phrases that have not finished yet, e.g. ‘today’, ‘this week’ and ‘this year’. For example: Have you seen Ali today?
Stage 3: Use the grammar
True or false?
Learners write three sentences about themselves (two true and one false). In pairs they guess which sentence is false.
Or learners write five ‘Have you ever…?’ questions for their partner to answer. Their partner must answer: ‘Yes, I have’. Then they ask their partner three ‘Wh-’ questions in simple past to find out if they are lying.
Tell the learners to notice what happens during the lesson. Halfway through the lesson ask questions about what has happened since the start, e.g. How many times have I cleaned the board? Has anyone asked for a pencil?
Or ask: ‘What’s happened since the start of the lesson?’ Learners work in pairs or groups to write as many sentences as possible in five minutes.
Only I have!
Learners mingle and ask ‘Have you ever…?’ questions to find one thing they have done that nobody else in the class has. Learners tell the class about it.
Learners work in pairs. They think about what they would like to know about their classmates and write one question, e.g. Have you ever been to a safari park?
They mingle and ask all their classmates. If someone says ‘Yes’, they ask their second question, e.g. Where? or When? They note the number of ‘Yes’ answers and the extra information.
Then they present their findings to the class. They could also make a poster to display.
Learners work in groups to make a list of all the things they need to do to prepare for a class party. Then they decide who will do what.
Next, they role play a meeting where they ask and report on what they have and haven’t done on the list. e.g. I’ve bought the drinks but I haven’t found any cups yet.
Whose life is it?
Learners work in pairs to interview their partner using present perfect and past simple. They write a short magazine article about their life. The articles are put on the walls before the next lesson. Learners read and guess whose life it is.