have yet to

Grammar focus: have yet to

The phrase ‘have yet to‘ can be confusing! The present perfect tense in English can be difficult at the best of times, and this phrase is another challenge for English learners.

A student came to see me the other day with a letter that he couldn’t understand. He had applied for a postgraduate course in another university and he had sent his transcript to the university admissions office. He inquired about the progress of his application and they sent him a letter. One part of the letter said:

We have yet to receive your transcript. So the student asked me “What does it mean? Have they got it or not?”
Answer: “No, they haven’t!”

We have yet to receive your transcript = We haven’t received your transcript yet.

This is formal English. It is used in formal situations, and is much less common in casual spoken English. Here are some more examples below, click on the sentence for some comments on each one.

You can read another article on English for University.com about the use of the present perfect tense here.

I think that this phrase is one which you should learn to recognise when you see it, but I suggest that you don’t worry too much about producing it yourself. It is very formal and although it can be useful in academic writing, you will be able to write very successfully without ever using it. The key to successful academic writing is clarity and you can clearly convey your meaning without specific use of this particular phrase. If you read the article ‘What is academic English‘ you can get a good understanding of the basic features of academic English.

Now try these grammar activities to consolidate your knowledge of have yet to:

You can read read more about this structure from the Macmillan Dictionary here.

Other articles about grammar on English for University.Com are  here.

have yet to