Hello and welcome back to The Art of Business English. As always it is a pleasure having you here. In this week’s episode we are going to be looking at the Present and Future Perfect and how we can use them to talk about change when we are presenting in a meeting or discussing things such as sales from the previous quarter or looking at sales forecasts in the future.
If you need to talk about change in your organisation and always use the same structures, then this episode will help you to understand how you can talk about change over time and how you can make predictions for things that will have happened or finished in the future.
Here at The AOBE we appreciate that the present perfect tense can sometimes be a little confusing, especially for Spanish speakers, so today, we are going explain to you how to use it and implement it in your next meeting are presentation.
So, in today’s episode we will be covering:
Let's begin with the present perfect, we use the present perfect when we want to show a link between the past and the present.
The present perfect simple has the following structure:
|Affirmative||Subject + have/has + past participle||Sales have been strong|
|Negative||Subject + have/has + not + past participle||Sales haven't increased|
|Question||Have/has + subject + past participle||Have sales gone down?|
Note: Contracted forms and pronunciation
We use the present perfect simple:
We've seen strong sales during this quarter (Quarter is not closed).
We have received a lot of feedback from the last marketing campaign.
The following time expressions are often used: ever, never, before, up to now, still, so far.
These are the best sales results we have ever seen (at any point before now).
Remember: If we say when something happened, we must use the simple past.
Sales were flat in the month of May.
Sales have been strong for the last two months.
Note: We use for plus a length of time. e.g. For two minutes/ days/ weeks/ months/ years.
We use since with a point in time. e.g. since Monday, since 1996, since I last saw Mark, since I started working here.
We have closed the accounts for the first quarter and the results are better than expected.
The following time expressions are often used: recently, just, already and yet with negative sentences or in questions.
I've just seen the latest sale report.
Have you spoken to Graham yet?
Now that we understand the present perfect simple, let's look at the present perfect progressive.
The present perfect progressive has the following structure:
|Affirmative||Subject + have/has + been + Ving||Sales have been increasing month on month.|
|Negative||Subject + have/has + not + been + Ving||Sales haven't been doing as well as they should.|
|Question||Have/has + subject + been + Ving||Have sales been improving this quarter?|
We can use both the present perfect simple and the present perfect progressive to talk about how long a situation or activity has been occurring (often using for or since):
I've worked here for 10 years.
I've been working here for 10 years.
I've written a report this morning.
I've been writing this report all morning.
Let's now look at the difference between the present perfect simple and the present perfect progressive.
|Present Perfect Progressive||Present Perfect Simple|
|The emphasis is on the duration||Emphasis on the number of times|
|I've been working on this report all morning||I've written two reports this morning|
| || |
|Focuses on the activity (does not show whether the activity is completed):||Focuses on the result or completion of the activity:|
|I've been writing this report all morning (we don't know if the report is finished).||I've written the report (The report is finished, but we don't know when)|
OK, by now you should understand how to talk about past actions that are relevant for the present and understand how to do this by using the present perfect. In the next part of the episode we are going to look at how we can use the future perfect to talk about future actions that will be finished in the future and how we can apply them to forecasting.
The future perfect simple has the following structure:
|Affirmative||Subject + will +have + past participle||Sales will have expanded by December.|
|Negative||Subject + will + not + have + past participle||Sales won't have met expectations by the end of the year.|
|Question||Will + subject + have + past participle?||Will sales have reached our targets by the end of this quarter?|
We use the future perfect simple to talk about a future event that will finish before a specified time in the future, often with before, by + fixed time, or in + amount of time:
By the end of the quarter sales will have grown considerably.
I'll have finished the full sales forecast by the end of the week.
This time net week, we will have finished the sales presentation.
Now that we understand how the present and future perfect work at a grammatical level, we are now going to look at how these structures can be applied to a sales meeting or presentation.
The first thing to remember when using the present perfect in English is that it can be used to talk about things that happened in the past and are still happening. This can sound a little strange to a Spanish speaker. Let me demonstrate.
I have worked here for 5 years.
In English this transmits that the person has been working in the company for 5 years and continues to work in the company.
He trabajado aquí durante 5 años.
However, in Spanish the sentence gives the impression that the person no longer works for the company. We must have this clear or we will not apply the present perfect correctly.
Secondly, in Spanish we can use the present simple to talk about things that started in the past and are true in the present.
Desde hace 5 años que trabajo aquí.
The above structure in English is impossible, we are forced to use the present perfect, because we can only include time in the past up to the present by using the present perfect. You cannot mix since and ago with the present simple.
So, if we are in a meeting and we need to provide a sales report or give a presentation in the form of a sales presentation, then we can use the present perfect simple and the present perfect progressive in the following way.
Context: Monthly managers meeting at the beginning of March (1st quarter = January to March)
"Hello everyone, thanks for joining me. I am happy to report that this quarter has been very profitable for the company. We have seen sales jump by almost 20%. We have also seen an increase in our market share. Sales of our line of winter boots have increased steadily and sales of coats has also been stronger than expected."
In this example, the quarter being referred to has not finished, the person is reporting on the progress of sales during this quarter, even though the quarter has not been closed.
Context: European key accounts manager meeting, client evolution update.
"John, could you please inform us about the client Marshall S.A., how are they evolving?"
"Of course, Mark, my pleasure. Marshall is evolving positively. They have steadily increased their orders month on month. So far, we have supplied them for 3 big contracts that they were awarded. Furthermore, they have won a considerable number of smaller contracts recently and they have required a large number of references to complete these jobs."
Here we can see that a number of things have occurred over a period time. We are not sure exactly when they happened, but the information is relevant now in the present, so we must use the present perfect to demonstrate this.
Context: Describing the evolution of sales over a 1-month period since product launch.
"Sales have been steady for the past month. Since we launched the new product we have been happy with the evolution of sales, especially in Europe where adoption has been strong."
In the above example, we can see the use of for + time expression. Remember, with English during and for are used differently and should not be confused.
Right, let's take a look at the present perfect progressive and see how we can apply this to our meetings and presentations.
The first thing to keep in mind, is that often, the present perfect simple and the present perfect progressive will both work for certain structures. However, the progressive form is generally used to focus on the duration of the activity and the activity itself. It doesn't express if the action has finished.
Context: Talking about a marketing campaign over a period of time.
"The summer marketing campaign has been running since early June and the results so far have been positive. We have been tracking sales volumes and can report that they have been trending upwards as we have been focusing our energies on a coordinated social media marketing campaign on all the major platforms."
As you can see in the example, we are talking about the on-going activities. The marketing campaign started in the past and continues in the present. None of the activities has finished and we use the progressive form to focus on the fact that these activities are still in progress.
Now we are going to turn to the last perfect form to complete our examples of them in use. Let's look at the future perfect simple.
Firstly, remember that the future perfect simple is very easy to use and translate as it is practically the same in Spanish. An example of the future perfect simple in Spanish is, "Este Viernes al medio día habré terminado mi informe." So, in English we can quickly translate that to, "I will have finished the report by Friday lunchtime." Let's take a look at an example in context.
Context: Making future forecasts in a meeting based on sales projections.
"John, can you please give us your thoughts on sales volumes for the next month?"
"My pleasure Mark. Based on correct sales trends we will have reached our sales objectives before the end of this month. If sales continue at this rate, then by the end of the quarter we will have beaten our sales targets by close to 10%. On the down side, we will have to increase production to meet demand, meaning by the end of the quarter we will have gone over budget on our labour cost predictions."
Again, here we can see that each of these activities will be or are predicted to be completed at a future point. So, we can use the future perfect simple to talk about sales forecasts into the future. However, remember, that it is to say whether the activity will be completed or not.
OK, in the last part I want to bring it all together and give you a final example of how we can use them all together.
Context: Giving a sales report in a meeting.
"Hello everyone, today, I am going to give you a quick update on how the sales in the second quarter of this financial year have been evolving. As you all know the first quarter was a bit weak, however, I am happy to report that sales in the second quarter have been improving. We have seen strong growth in our cosmetics line. We have also seen good sales from our perfume brands and I am happy to say that our newly launched line of bags has been performing well too. If things continue this way, then sales will have beaten our initial forecasts by the end of this quarter."
Well, there you have it, using the present and future perfect to talk about sales in meetings or presentations. Be sure to review all of the vocabulary and structures at our website. You can download a PDF copy of the episode from our website to help you with your study plan. I hope you have enjoyed the episode and got a lot of value from it. If you liked the episode, then please leave us a comment and share it with your friends. If you have any questions regarding the use of the present perfect or future perfect then please get in touch, we are more than happy to help. Well, that is all we have time for today, so take care and I will see you all in next week's episode. Bye for now.
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Andrew is the CEO and founder of the Art of Business English. Besides teaching and coaching native Spanish speakers in Business English, he is also passionate about mountain biking, sailing and healthy living. When He is not working, Andrew loves to spend time with his family and friends.
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