Table of Contents
The present perfect continuous tense (also called “present perfect progressive”) is used to talk about the duration of an action that started in the past and continues in the present.
- I have been working on this project for 3 weeks.
( I started working on the project 3 weeks ago and am still working on it.)
- It has been raining for a long time.
( It started raining a long time ago and is still raining.)
We make the present perfect continuous verbs as follows.
I, We, You, They + have + been + present participle (verb-ing)
She, He, It + has + been + present participle (verb-ing)
- We have been cleaning the basement since 6 o’clock.
- She has been talking on the phone for an hour now.
- It has been snowing since morning.
I, We, You, They + have + not + been + present participle (verb-ing)
She, He, It + has + not + been + present participle (verb-ing)
- I haven’t been swimming for a long time.
- We haven’t been eating outside lately.
- He has not been waiting for long.
(Wh) have + I, we, you, they + been + present participle (verb-ing)?
(Wh) has + she, he, it + been + present participle (verb-ing)?
- Why have they been playing for so long?
- Has he been waiting for a long time?
- What have you been doing lately?
With the verbs live, work, and teach, there is little or no difference between the present perfect and present perfect continuous when used with since and for.
Both sentences in each of the following pairs mean almost the same.
- We have lived here for a year.
- We have been living here for a year.
- I have worked with him for a few years.
- I have been working with him for a few years.
- He has taught at the university since 2015.
- He has been teaching at the university since 2015.
Verbs that cannot be used in continuous tenses
A group of verbs that describe the state of the subject (stative verbs) are not used in continuous tenses because continuous tenses have a duration (beginning, progress and end), which does not apply to state verbs.
The present perfect tense (NOT the present perfect continuous) is used with stative verbs.
- I have known my best friend for 20 years now.
(NOT I have been knowing ...)
- We have had three exams so far this semester.
(NOT We have been having ...)
Signal words used with the present perfect continuous
The following signal words are used with the present perfect continuous tense:
since / for / all day / all morning / all evening / all week
- We have been studying since morning.
- I have been trying to reach him for a few days.
- It has been raining all day.
- I have been preparing for the presentation all week.
If there is no mention of time in the sentence, the verb indicates a general activity in progress recently or lately.
- I have been shopping online lately.
- They have been using new technologies recently.