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Even though it can be tricky to remember when to use the present perfect, there are a few tricks you can use to help you.

For example, we often use the present perfect with these words:

  • ever
  • never
  • yet
  • just
  • already
ever

We generally use ever when we ask questions about experiences up until now. For example:

  • Have you ever been to Spain?
  • Has she ever met him before?
  • Have they ever called us first?

Or when we want to use a double negative, which is impossible in English, so instead we use ever:

  • I don’t think she’s has ever called me by my real name.
  • She’s not sure she’s ever been here before.
  • They’re not ever going to let us go to that concert.
Never

Use never when you want to talk about something that has not happened:

  • We’ve never eaten in a Caribbean restaurant.
  • They’ve never invited us over for drinks.
  • She’s never said hello to me, even though we see each other every day in class!
  • My mom has never been to Rio.
  • I’ve never liked oysters.
yet

Use yet when you want to talk about something that you plan on doing but not done, or to ask a question about something that needs to be done. Generally, we use this in the negative form, or in questions. For example:

  • Have you called the vet yet?
  • I haven’t finished my math homework yet.
  • He hasn’t called yet, but I’m sure he’s just been very busy.
  • Has she helped you with your taxes yet? I asked her to call you last night.
  • My dad hasn’t fixed his car yet so you’ll have to ask yours to drive us to the airport.
just

Use just to talk about something that has happened very recently. Here are some examples:

  • The doctor has just called, Kevin is going to be fine!
  • I’ve just cleaned the floor, don’t walk on it.
  • We’ve just bought a new car so I’m really excited to go for a ride.
  • He’s just gone out, he’ll be back in 5 minutes.
  • They’ve just heard the news and they’re so happy!
Already

Use already to talk about something that was done.

  • I’ve already had pasta today, I don’t want to eat it again for dinner.
  • Mom: go do your homework. Kid: I’ve already done it.
  • We’ve already been to Amsterdam, maybe we could go to Berlin instead?
  • The director has already called me back!
  • You’ve already played that song.

Of course, these aren’t foolproof tricks, these words can also be used in other contexts, but they should help you figure out if you want to use the past simple or the present perfect.

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