Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The Present Perfect Continuous Tense, also known as Present Perfect Progressive, is a tense that is used to describe a situation that starts in the past and may continue up( is still happening)to the present time or may have just finished. Here, we are interested in the action as well as the result which can be seen now. And a precise description of the action’s length of time is usually given.


The Patterns

Affirmative

Subject+have/has + been + V-ing (present participle) —>> I have been doing ….

Negative

Subject+have/has+not + been + V-ing (present participle) —->> I have not been doing ….

Interrogative

Have/Has + Subject+ been + Vi-ng (present participle) —->> Have you been doing …?

Have ————–>> I, We, You, They
Has ————–>> He, She, It

Time Signals

The time signals usually used in present perfect continuous tense are for, since, recently, lately, the whole day, all day, etc. We use for to talk about a period of time such as for 5 minutes, for 2 weeks, for 6 years; while since is used to talk about a point in past time like since 9 o’clock, since 1st January, since Monday, etc.

The uses

1. To talk about an action started in the past and continues to the present. It can express how long we have been doing our current job or working on unfinished projects. This is often used with for or since.

Examples:

I have been cleaning my room for 1 hour. (I am still cleaning my room now)
She has been working for the company for 10 years. (She’s still working there now)
The students have been studying since 7 o’clock. (They’re still studying now)
How long have you been learning English? (You are still learning English now)
We have not been smoking. (And we are not smoking now)

2. To talk about an action that is started in the past has just stopped recently. Here we are interested in the result of the action which now can be seen, smelt, heard or felt.

Examples:

  • I’m tired [now] because I’ve been running.
  • Why is the grass wet [now]? Has it been raining?
  • You don’t understand [now] because you haven’t been listening.
  • It’s been raining, my hair is still wet.
  • Who has been sleeping in my bed?
  • Have you been feeling alright?

3. Use Present Perfect Continuous with recently or lately
You can also use the Present Perfect Continuous WITHOUT a duration such as for one month, for one year, etc. Without the duration, this tense has a more general meaning of lately and we frequently use lately or recently to emphasize this meaning.

Examples:

  • Recently, I have been feeling really annoyed.
  • The boy has been playing too many games lately.
  • Have you been exercising lately?

The Comparison between The Present Perfect and The Present Perfect Continuous

The Present Perfect is used for action just complete very recently. It means that the action has just happened recently but has been completed. It could happen five minutes ago, or an hour ago, or yesterday. It has already happened during some period of time which is recent.

Present Perfect is used in the following ways:

  • To talk about the past action with a relationship now, e.g: I have painted the wall.
  • To talk about the past action that stops recently, e.g: I have finished cooking (maybe 30 minutes ago).
  • To talk about experience in life, e.g: I have been to China.

While Present Perfect Continuous is used for action that starts in the past and may continue up( is still happening)to the present time or may have just finished.

Present Perfect Continuous is used in the following ways:

  • To talk about a past action that continues until the moment of speaking, e.g: I have been writing an article for an hour.
  • To talk about a past action that has just stopped recently, (similar with present perfect no. 2 but the action in Present Perfect Continuous is more recent than Present Perfect, yet usually they are interchangeable) e.g: It’s been raining, my hair is still wet.

The main difference is actually when you focus more on the result of the action, Present Perfect is better. See the following sentences:

  • I have painted the room, so the room color now is blue, it was white before.
  • I have been painting the room so now I am tired.
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