Present Perfect Continuous Tense - Quynh Huong Center for Foreign Language Translation & Education

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5 Sept 2014

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

a. Form: S + Have/ Has + Been + Ving
b. Uses
  • To express an activity which began in the past and continues to the present. Ex: we have been walking here for hours. I have been learning English since I was in secondary school.
  • To refer to an activity with a result in the present. The past activity might be finished or it might not. The context usually makes this clear. Ex: I am hot because I have been running. He has been learning all morning. I'm sorry I am late, have you been waiting long? Look outside the window! It's been snowing! I am covered in paint because I have been decorating the bathroom.
  • The action may have ended recently. We can also use this tense for a series of repeated actions. Ex: I have been going to evening classes.
  • Sometime there is little or no difference in meaning between the present perfect simple and continuous. Ex: How long have you worked/ have you been working here? I've ironed/ have been ironing 5 shirts this morning.
  • Think of the verbs that have the idea of a long time, for example, wait, work, learn, travel, play. These verbs can be found in the present perfect continuous. Think of the verbs that do not have the idea of a long time, for example, find, start, buy, die, lose, break, stop. It is unusual to find these verbs in the present perfect continuous. These verbs can be found in the present perfect. Ex: I have been playing tennis since I was a child. I have bought a new house. My cat has died. My radio has broken.
  • Verbs that express a state, for example, like, love, know, have for possession, and "are" not found in the present perfect continuous. Ex: we have known each other for 5 years - (Not use: have been knowing). How long have you had your car? (Not use: have you been having).
  • The present perfect simple looks at the completed action. This is why, if the sentence gives a number or a quantity, the present perfect simple is used. The continuous is not possible. Ex: he has written three letters today - (Not use: has been writing).

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