Freddie Mercury in concert

Songs to Learn English – The Present Perfect Simple

Have you ever had a song that just keeps playing in your head? We’ve all experienced those tunes that stick with us throughout the day. These ‘earworms’ could help you learn English. You probably know some English songs already—maybe you can even recite the lyrics, even if you’ve forgotten where you first heard them.

Songs can help you improve both your listening and speaking, they can help you internalize rhythm, stress, pronunciation, common collocations, and even tricky grammatical structures. But, a word of caution—songs are a form of art and can be a little rebellious, using unusual expressions, unconventional grammar, and unexpected collocations. You need to choose carefully.

How to use songs

One effective way to use songs is through ‘shadowing’ (as discussed in a previous blog post). Choose songs you genuinely like and are happy to listen to repeatedly. Once you’ve selected your song, find the lyrics and sing along. The repetition will not only reinforce vocabulary but also enhance your pronunciation and overall language fluency.

YouTube is an excellent resource for finding free song recordings, often accompanied by lyric videos. However, be careful—sometimes the lyrics provided may not be entirely accurate.

To ensure reliability, platforms like lyrics.com and AZ lyrics are trustworthy sources for finding accurate and verified lyrics.

Songs to practice the Present Perfect

 

Have You Ever Seen The Rain? By Credence Clearwater Revival

Released in 1971 by the American rock band.

Theme: Success doesn’t guarantee happiness.

Expressions: Words about weather.

 

Fire and Rain by James Taylor

Released in 1970 this was written and performed by the American singer-songwriter.

Theme: Written after a friend’s death, this is a reflection on loss..

Expressions: to make a stand; to see me through; to make it.

 

I’ve Never Been to Me by Charlene

This is a ballad first released by the American singer in 1977. It was re-released in 1982 and became very popular.

Theme: Contrasting rich and poor lifestyles. The singer suggests that her own life has been empty.

Note: The song uses the word ‘ain’t’ which is not standard English but is used in many dialects to mean ‘isn’t’, ‘aren’t’ or ‘am not’.

 

Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson

Released by the American pop singer in 2004.

Theme: Lost love.

Note: In standard English we use the auxiliary verb ‘have’ in the present perfect – this should be ‘Since you’ve (or, you have) been gone’, however, in speech the auxiliary is often difficult to hear.

 

Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor

This song was written by American musician Prince. The most famous version was recorded by Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O’Conner and released in 1990.

Theme: Lost love

Expressions: the blues (meaning ‘sadness’)

 

Have You Ever by Westlife

Released in 2007 by the Irish pop group, this song repeatedly uses present perfect questions.

Note: Non-standard English  – The song uses the words ‘What do I gotta do to get you in my arms?’ and ‘What do I gotta say to get to your heart?’. This is used in some dialects instead of ‘What have I got to do / to say’.

 

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2

Released by the Irish rock band in 1987.

Theme: Searching for meaning.

Expressions: to crawl; to scale.

Note: Non-standard English – ‘I have spoke with the tongue of angels’. In Standard English this would be ‘I have spoken..’

 

Have I told you lately that I love you by Van Morrison

Released by the Irish singer-songwriter in 1989.

Theme: Love

 

Far Far Away by Slade

Released in 1974 by the British rock band.

Expressions: ‘the hound-dog singer’ is Elvis Presley.

Note: Non-Standard English: ‘I’ve sang the glory that was Rome’. In Standard English this would be ‘I’ve sung…’

 

We Are The Champions by Queen

Released by the British rock band in 1977.

Theme: Celebrating victory.

Expressions: ‘to pay my dues’; ‘to do a sentence’, ‘to commit a crime’

 

Do you know any good songs to practice the Present Perfect? Let me know here or on Facebook.