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Three ESL Grammar Exercises for Correct Use of the Perfect Tense

written by: Audrey Alleyne • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 8/2/2012

Help your students to get rid of mistakes using the English Perfect tense, with these simple ESL Grammar exercises for the Perfect tense.

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    Three Verb Groups

    Your students can get easily confused over the use of the Perfect Tense with the following three verb groups. Each group has a respective game which will give them further insight into understanding, and also aid their memory.

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    Regular Verbs

    Invite your students to go down the memory lane of their lives, by using a world map, or personal travel pictures. Explain to them that you have had a very interesting life, telling them of places you have traveled to, and things you have done. Then elicit the present perfect simple from them as you continue to feed it. Drill the form before moving on. Here are some examples:

    Teacher (T): Have you traveled around the world?

    Student (S) No, I haven’t.

    T - Have you visited New York?

    S - Yes, I have.

    Move on now to “Have you ever….?

    T - Have you ever lived in India?

    S - No, I haven’t.

    T - Have you ever surfed in Florida?

    S - Yes, I have.

    Now, have your students work in pairs and either supply them with ideas, or have them experiment at asking their own questions.

    Next you need to use variations on the examples which will ensure negative answers, and encourage weaving among the students.

    T – Have you ever lived in an igloo?

    S – No, I’ve never lived in an igloo

    T- Has she ever walked across Africa?

    S - I don’t know.

    This student will then ask the student referred to: ‘Have you ever walked across Africa’?

    To which the student replies: ‘No, I’ve never walked across Africa’.

    Now you can introduce ‘been’

    T - Have you ever been to Iceland?

    S - No, I haven’t.

    T - Where have you been?

    S - I’ve been to Paris.

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    Irregular Verbs (Similar Simple Past and Past Participle)

    Your students may be confused by the verbs which have the same Past Participle and Simple Past form. In order to have them avoid making mistakes like ‘I have seen him yesterday,’ try this game.

    T - I had a baby last year. Have you ever had a baby?

    S - Yes I had a baby two years ago / No, I have never had a baby.

    T - I’ve read Harry Pottter. What about you?

    Nod in order for your student to reply:

    S - I’ve read it too.

    Or shake your head for your student to reply

    S - No, I haven’t read it.

    Introduce the word ‘either’.

    T - I haven’t been to Greece. And you (= What about you?)

    S - I haven’t been to Greece either / Yes, I’ve been to Greece.

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    Irregular Verbs (irregular in all 3 parts)

    Use the following patterns for the verbs which are irregular in all three parts.

    T - I flew to London for the first time. Have you ever flown from New York to London?

    S - Yes, I have. / No, I’ve never flown in an airplane.

    T - I drank a lot of French wine when I was in Paris. Have you ever drunk French wine?

    S - Yes I have drunk French wine before.

    T – Peter said that he was in Europe last year. How many times have you been to Europe Ana?

    S – I’ve been to Europe several times. / I’ve never been to Europe.

    You can learn more about the Perfect Tense here at Bright Hub.

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    You can also find more ESL grammar games for the Perfect Tense on the following website.