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Present Perfect 'up to now' for German Speakers

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

These exercises will help you to correctly use the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous to say how long (or since when) an action or state has been happening or true for.


For example;

I have lived in Berlin for 10 years. (Present Perfect).

I have been living in Berlin since 2014. (Present Perfect Continuous).


When do we need these tenses?

  • These tenses are used to say how long something that is true in the present has been happening for, so with the example above, the person lives in Berlin in the present, but to show how long they have been living there we need these tenses.


How do you correctly make these tenses?


The Present Perfect is always formed as; has/have + *past participle. (*this is also called the 3rd form of the verb).

  • I have lived in Berlin for 8 years.

  • I haven't lived in London for 8 years.

  • How long have you lived in Berlin?


The Present Perfect Continuous is always formed as; has/have + been + *present participle. (*this is also called the ing form of the verb).

  • I have been living in Berlin for 8 years.

  • I haven't been living in London for 8 years.

  • How long have you been living in Berlin?


Remember;

  • These tenses are used where the German language uses the time word seit, for example “Ich lebe seit 8 Jahren in Berlin” is correctly translated as either “I have lived in Berlin for 8 years” or “I have been living in Berlin for 8 years”.

  • seit” has two translations; since + a starting point in time (since last year, since 1998) and for + a duration (for two years, for a long time).

  • There is no difference in meaning between the sentences I have worked here since 2012 and I have been working here since 2012 because the verb to work is an active verb, so on that basis you can use either tense and it doesn’t matter. The exception is that we cannot use the Present Perfect Continuous with Stative verbs so for example "I have been knowing him for ten years" is incorrect.

  • Questions start most commonly with how long? (Wie lange schon? ) but are sometimes also started with since when? (Seit wann?)

  • Be careful of verbs like “to be married” or “to be employed” – the main verb is “to be” so only that one needs to be conjugated (changed) – so, “I have been married for…”, or “I have been employed for…”.


Exercises: These exercises assume that you understand the correct form of the two tenses. They are also based on the idea that in order to be able to correctly use this tense in everyday conversation, you need to be able to recognise how it relates to giving specific information in German.


Exercise 1:

Translate the following sentences into English. The verbs to live, to work and to learn are all active verbs, so can be translated into either Present Perfect or Present Perfect Continuous. Pay attention to when you need to use since or for.

  1. Ich lebe seit zehn Jahren in Berlin.

  2. Ich wohne seit 2013 in Berlin.

  3. Ich arbeite seit 8 Jahren in meinem Unternehmen.

  4. Ich arbeite seit 2015 in meiner Firma.

  5. Ich habe Englisch gelernt, seit ich in der Schule war.

  6. Ich habe schon lange Englisch gelernt.


Exercise 2:

Now translate the sentences below which also include negative and question sentences. Use either Present Perfect or Present Perfect Continuous for active verbs, and only Present Perfect for stative verbs. (the stative verbs are marked in pink).


Positive sentences:

  1. Ich arbeite schon seit langem hier.

  2. Wir sind seit 2012 verheiratet.

  3. Wir arbeiten seit Januar letzten Jahres in diesem Büro.

  4. Er ist jetzt schon seit fast zwei Jahren der Chef.

  5. Seit Beginn der Pandemie arbeite ich zweimal pro Woche von zu Hause aus.

  6. Seit letztem Sommer renovieren wir unser Haus.

  7. Seit 6 Monaten hat er einen Firmenwagen.

  8. Wir sind seit 2018 in diesem Büro.

  9. Ich bin im gleichen Team, seit ich in dieser Firma angefangen habe.

Negative sentences:

  1. Wir haben uns seit letztem Jahr nicht mehr gesehen.

  2. Ich bin seit vor der Pandemie nicht mehr ins Ausland geflogen.

  3. Er hat seit 8 Jahren kein Fleisch mehr gegessen.

  4. Ich habe seit Januar nicht mehr geraucht.

  5. Ich habe seit meinem Unfall kein Tennis mehr gespielt.

  6. Das Team hat seine Effizienzziele in den letzten sechs Monaten nicht erreicht.

  7. Wir haben seit 2012 kein Benzinauto mehr benutzt.

Question sentences:

  1. Wie lange lernen Sie schon Englisch?

  2. Wie lange leben sie schon hier?

  3. Wie lange arbeiten Sie schon als Ingenieur?

  4. Wie lange arbeitet er schon in Ihrer Firma?

  5. Wie lange warten Sie schon?

  6. Wie lange ist sie schon Veganerin?


The answers are below – when you have checked that you have them all correct, read through the sentences out loud – this will help you to make more of a connection between the correct grammar, and what you automatically produce in conversation.


Sentences worth knowing:

It’s worth memorizing a number of typical sentences that we would use with this grammar, so for all of the following, create a sentence that is true for yourself.

  1. How long you have worked in your company.

  2. How long you have been learning English.

  3. How long you have lived where you live.

  4. If married, how long you have been married.

  5. If you have any kind of hobby or interest, how long you have been doing it.

  6. If any of your colleagues are on maternity leave, how long they have been on maternity leave.

  7. If you are managing a specific project, or piece of work, how long have you been managing this piece of work.


The answers:


Exercise 1:

  1. I have lived in Berlin for ten years. / I have been living in Berlin for ten years.

  2. I have lived in Berlin since 2013. / I have been living in Berlin since 2013.

  3. I have worked for my company for 8 years. / I have been working in my company for 8 years.

  4. I have worked for my company since 2015. / I have been working in my company since 2015.

  5. I have learnt English since I was at school. / I have been learning English since I was at school.

  6. I have learnt English for ages. / I have been learning English for ages.


Exercise 2:

Positive sentences:

  1. I have been working here for a long time.

  2. We have been married since 2012.

  3. We have been based in this office since last January.

  4. He has been the boss for almost two years now.

  5. I have been working from home twice a week since the pandemic started.

  6. We have been renovating our house since last summer.

  7. He has had a company car for 6 months.

  8. We have been based in this office since 2018.

  9. I've been in the same team since I started in this company.

Negative sentences:

  1. We haven't seen each other since last year.

  2. I haven’t flown abroad since before the pandemic.

  3. He hasn’t eaten meat for 8 years.

  4. I haven't smoked since January.

  5. I haven't played tennis since my accident.

  6. The team has not met their efficiency targets for the last six months.

  7. We haven’t used petrol cars since 2012.

Question sentences:

  1. How long have you been learning English?

  2. How long have they lived here?

  3. How long have you been working as an engineer?

  4. How long has he worked for your company?

  5. How long have you been waiting?

  6. How long has she been vegan?

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