Present Perfect in Korean – Korean Tense #17

It's the 17th and the final episode about tense in Korean. We'll learn how to express present perfect tense in Korean. Like many other tense forms, there is no word-by-word translation for present perfect tense in Korean.

Usually, present perfect tense is used when there is some kind of connection between the past and the present. These connections help us express our experience or continuous action throughout that period. We'll see how to express each in Korean.

When you want to talk about your past experience, you should use "-ㄴ/은/는 적이 있다".

나는 서울에 가 본 적이 있다.
I've visited Seoul before.

성경 읽어 본 적 있어요?
Have you ever read the Bible?

그렇게 열심히 공부한 적은 없었던 것 같습니다.
I've never studied hard like that.

In English, it becomes really unnatural if you add a specific time to a present perfect sentence like "Have you ever read the Bible yesterday?", "I have visited Seoul 3 years ago." It's same in Korean. You shouldn't use specific time phrases like 어제, 3일 전 with -적이 있다.

Present perfect tense is also used when you want to talk about your continuous action or effort like "I've studied Korean for 5 years". In these cases, you should use "-해 오다" form. As we all know, 오다 means to come. From a point in the past, you've come here by doing something. Koreans express connection between the past and the present like that. So, "-해 오다" is used to express your continuous action or effort.

그 분야에 대해서는 3년 간 연구해 왔는데 아직도 모르는 게 많아요.
I've researched about that field for 3 years, but I still don't know about many things.

한 달 동안이나 준비해 왔는데 쓸모 없어졌어.
We've prepared it for a month but it became useless.

노력해 온 것이 아까워서라도 성공해 내고 만다.
I'll surely make it a success because I don't want to waste my effort I've put into it.