Grammar – Present perfect continuous

When to use the present perfect continuous

Like the present perfect simple, the present perfect continuous joins the past and the present. It is used to describe:

  • actions that started in the past and haven’t finished
  • repeated actions
  • long actions

Explanation

When to use the present perfect continuous

Like the present perfect simple, the present perfect continuous joins the past and the present. It is used to describe:

  • actions that started in the past and haven’t finished
  • repeated actions
  • long actions

Sometimes it is the same as present perfect simple.

Ive lived in New Zealand for a long time.

Ive been living in New Zealand for a long time.

These sentences are the same. In both, for a long time is not finished, so the speaker still lives in New Zealand.

But sometimes there is a small difference.

Ive lived in New Zealand.

Ive been living in New Zealand.

In both sentences there is no time, but we know that the time is in my life. In the first sentence (simple), the action is finished – the speaker does not live in New Zealand any more. In the second sentence (continuous), the action is not finished – the speaker lives in New Zealand now.

Today, Ive painted the house.

Today, Ive been painting the house.

Again, the first sentence means that the action is finished – they have finished painting. The second sentence means that the action is not finished – they are still painting.

So, when we use present perfect without a time or with a time like today, this week or this month, simple means the action is finished and continuous means it is not finished.

How to make present perfect continuous

Affirmative

Subject + have + been + verb-ing

Ive been living in Browns Bay for a long time.

He has been dating Jessica since 2013.

Negative

Subject + have + not + been + verb-ing

They haven’t been coming to class on time.

I haven’t been sleeping well recently.

Question

(Question word) + Have + subject + been + verb-ing

You look great! Have you been exercising?

Why have they been laughing all morning?

Quiz

Present perfect continuous

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