Lesson idea: present perfect time markers

activity from Gateway (Macmillan)

Here are a few fun activities for practising time markers used with the present perfect. There’s a review of these markers in a B1 level teen coursebook we’re using (Gateway, Macmillan). I found the meaning/rule activity in the book useful, but the practice tasks following it were a bit boring so I made up a few more.

Time markers practised: already, for, just, never, since, yet

BEEP game

  1. Students write one sentence for each time marker. They should personalise this.


I’ve never been to Laos

I haven’t done my homework yet


  1. Students self-correct / peer-correct sentences with a partner. You could draw attention to possible errors (e.g. are the time markers in the right place?) or typical errors you know your learners make (e.g. *I’ve never been yet), just for a bit of direction
  2. Students change partners. They keep their sentences a secret. They read each sentence to their partner, but replace the time expression with the sound ‘BEEP’. Their partner guesses the missing word by repeating the complete sentence, like this….

A: I’ve BEEP been to Laos

B: You’ve just been to Laos?

A: Wrong

B: You’ve never been to Laos?

A: Correct!


Encourage learners to ask at least one follow up question to keep the conversation going…


B: You’ve never been to Laos?

A: Correct!

B: Would you like to go?

A: Er… I guess so.

B: Why?


I find this is better than the book suggestion of two truths and a lie – the students can use their knowledge of where the time markers are positioned in a sentence to help them guess the answer.



They can guess the answer using question forms for extra practice (I got them to change partners and do this too)


A: I’ve BEEP been to Laos

B: Have you just been to Laos?

A: No…

B: Er… Have you ever been to Laos?

A: No…

B: So… you’ve never been to Laos!

A: Correct!


Conversation starters

  1. Students work in pairs. Give them prompt cards with the time expressions on them, face down
  2. Board topics, or spin a topic wheel (you could use wheeldecide to make one)

Example topics: Bangkok, snacks, movies, music, Pete’s English class, etc

  1. When a topic is revealed, one student turns over a card. They must start the conversation with a sentence including this time expression
  2. Their partner also turns over a card. They must continue the conversation, but somehow direct it to include their own time expression


Example: (the topic was movies)

A: (picks up ‘yet’) I saw Dunkirk yesterday. Have you seen it yet?

B: (picks up ‘for’) No, I haven’t been to the cinema for a few months…


This game works well in small groups too. It’s worth pointing out two things to students before they play though:

  1. They should try their best to stay on topic
  2. They don’t have to include their word in the first sentence they say, they can continue the conversation a bit before they use it!

 Alternative (of sorts…!)

  1. Rather than just individual words, give students ‘bingo’ cards with phrases on. They are allowed to look at these, but should keep them a secret.


I’ve already been

 I’ve already seen it

Not yet

Have you ever…?

…for 3 years

I’ve never tried [SPORT]


  1. Again, list topics on the board, but I find it’s best to allow freedom of choice for the topics here
  2. Students ask each other questions and generally discuss the topics. Their aim is to get their partner / group mates to say any of the phrases on their cards. This is great fun – I love hearing the students trying desperately to guide their partner to an answer (which they have no clue about)
  3. The first student to get their partner to say all their phrases is the winner

Note: I didn’t try this as a mingle, but I guess it could work like that too.


Do you have any other practice activities or games for these time markers? Please post them below so I can try them out! Cheers!

Feature image copyright: etsy

You can view another present perfect related activity here

Categories: grammar, Lesson Ideas

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. I love the way you use ‘time markers’ to teach present perfect. I use these ‘key words’ for drills in the present and the past. I make up flash cards with the key word and on the backside I write the answer. For this timed fladhcard game we only use use the verb “to do it” but in four tenses. Students get practice in word order and fluency without wasting too much time on creating sentences. It’s a great beginning in affirmative and first person. Then you move onto negatives and questions and switching verbs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Present Perfect can be really annoying and the main reason is: it is still misunderstood for Past Simple among young learners and even adults on intermediate level, so these ‘time makers’ are really useful to help them understand it.


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