# 2.4: Present Perfect Continuous

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## Forming the Present Perfect Continuous

Examine the sentences below. What are the verbs? What time expressions do you see?

• I have been decreasing my time on screen technology lately
• We have been spending more time talking to friends face-to-face these days
• Recently our class has been discussing the effects of too much screen time

This verb form is present perfect continuous. What are the three parts of this form?

• In the first sentence, the verb is "have been decreasing" and the time expression is "lately"
• In the second sentence, the verb is "have been spending" and the time expression is "these days"
• In the third sentence, the verb is "have been discussing" and the time expression is "recently"

The three parts of the present perfect continuous form are "have/has" + "been" + verb + -ing

• EX: She has been using her smartphone a lot these days

Affirmative Statements:

 I Have been Present participle (verb + -ing) You Have been Present participle (verb + -ing) He/She/It Has been Present participle (verb + -ing) We Have been Present participle (verb + -ing) They Have been Present participle (verb + -ing)

Negative Statements:

 I Have not been Present participle (verb + -ing) You Have not been Present participle (verb + -ing) He/She/It Has not been Present participle (verb + -ing) We Have not been Present participle (verb + -ing) They Have not been Present participle (verb + -ing)

Questions:

 (Wh) Have I been Present participle (verb + -ing) (Wh) Have you been Present participle (verb + -ing) (Wh) Has he/she/it been Present participle (verb + -ing) (Wh) Have we been Present participle (verb + -ing) (Wh) Have they been Present participle (verb + -ing)

## Comparing the Present Perfect and the Present Perfect Continuous: Similarities

Examine the sentences below. What are the verbs?

• I have been using Facebook for 10 years
• I have used Facebook for 10 years

Are the meanings of the sentences the same or different?

• The verb in the first sentence is "have been using"
• The verb in the second sentence is "have used"

The sentences have the same meaning. In some cases, present perfect and present perfect continuous have the same meaning, and you can use either. This is true for verbs that normally have a long duration, such as "work," "use," and "live"

• Be sure to use the form correctly! "I been using" and "I have using" are incorrect

Examine the sentences below. What are the verbs?

• I have been decreasing my time on screen technology this semester
• I have decreased my time on screen technology this semester

In which sentence has the writer accomplished their goal? In which sentence is the writer still working on their goal?

• The verb in the first sentence is "have been decreasing"
• The verb in the second sentence is "have decreased"

The writer has accomplished their goal in the second sentence (present perfect). The writer is still working on their goal in the first sentence (present perfect continuous)

Present perfect often refers to an activity that is completed at an indefinite time in the past. Present perfect continuous is used to show that the activity is on-going

## Contrast Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous

She has studied medicine...

• Is she finished studying medicine?
• When did she study medicine?
• How do her completed studies affect her activities now?
• Why use present perfect here?

• Yes, she is finished studying medicine
• We do not know when she studied medicine, but it does not matter
• Now that her studies are completed, she can practice her profession
• Present perfect is used here because it often indicates that an activity is finished at an indefinite time in the past, and might affect the present time

She has been studying all night...

• How do we know?
• Is she studying now?
• Did she finish?
• Why use present perfect continuous here?

• We know that she has been studying all night because we have evidence
• No, she is not studying now
• She probably did not finish, but she is finished for now
• We use present tense continuous here to emphasize that an activity took a long time and that it might not be finished

They have been studying all day...

• Are they studying now?
• Did they finish?
• Why use present perfect continuous?

• Yes, they are studying now
• No, they did not finish
• We use present perfect continuous here to emphasize that an activity took a long time and that it might not be finished

## Present Perfect Continuous Takeaways

• This tense is made with "have/has" + "been" + verb + -ing
• Sometimes, this tense has the same meaning as present perfect, especially with verbs that often continue over time, such as "live" and "work"
• This tense emphasizes that an activity was just completed (moments ago) or is on-going now. In contrast, present perfect often refers to an activity that is completed at an indefinite time and/or will affect the present
• Time expressions used with this tense include "lately," "recently," "these days," "this _______ (semester, year, month)," and "all _______ (night, day, week)," "for," and "since"

## Videos and Other Resources

This website has written explanations of present perfect and present perfect continuous, plus exercises...

## Practice Present Perfect Continuous

Use present perfect continuous and write complete sentences to answer these questions...

• Write three sentences explaining what you have been doing this semester to reduce screen addiction in your life
• Write three sentences explaining what you have been doing this year to reduce your carbon footprint
• Write three sentences to explain how your team has been helping each other learn English

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