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Present Perfect Continuous

The present perfect continuous (also called present perfect progressive) is a verb tense which is used to show that an action started in the past and has continued up to the present moment. The present perfect continuous usually emphasizes duration, or the amount of time that an action has been taking place. Read on for detailed descriptions, examples, and present perfect continuous exercises.

Present Perfect Continuous Forms

The present perfect continuous is formed using has/have + been + present participle. Questions are indicated by inverting the subject and has/have. Negatives are made with not.

Complete List of Present Perfect Continuous Forms

Present Perfect Continuous Uses

USE 1 Duration from the Past Until Now

present perfect continuous duration

We use the present perfect continuous to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the present perfect continuous.

Examples:

  • They have been talking for the last hour.
  • She has been working at that company for three years.
  • What have you been doing for the last 30 minutes?
  • James has been teaching at the university since June.
  • We have been waiting here for over two hours!
  • Why has Nancy not been taking her medicine for the last three days?

USE 2 Recently, Lately

present perfect continuous recently

You can also use the present perfect continuous WITHOUT a duration such as "for two weeks." Without the duration, the tense has a more general meaning of "lately." We often use the words "lately" or "recently" to emphasize this meaning.

Examples:

  • Recently, I have been feeling really tired.
  • She has been watching too much television lately.
  • Have you been exercising lately?
  • Mary has been feeling a little depressed.
  • Lisa has not been practicing her English.
  • What have you been doing?

IMPORTANT

Remember that the present perfect continuous has the meaning of "lately" or "recently." If you use the present perfect continuous in a question such as "Have you been feeling alright?", it can suggest that the person looks sick or unhealthy. A question such as "Have you been smoking?" can suggest that you smell the smoke on the person. Using this tense in a question suggests you can see, smell, hear or feel the results of the action. It is possible to insult someone by using this tense incorrectly.

REMEMBER Non-Continuous Verbs/ Mixed Verbs

It is important to remember that non-continuous verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for mixed verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using present perfect continuous with these verbs, you must use present perfect.

Examples:

  • Sam has been having his car for two years. Not Correct
  • Sam has had his car for two years. Correct

ADVERB PLACEMENT

The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.

Examples:

  • You have only been waiting here for one hour.
  • Have you only been waiting here for one hour?

ACTIVE / PASSIVE

Examples:

  • Recently, John has been doing the work. Active
  • Recently, the work has been being done by John. Passive

NOTE: Present perfect continuous is less commonly used in its passive form.

More About Active / Passive Forms

Present Perfect Continuous Exercises

Verb Tense Exercise 7Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 8Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 9Present Continuous and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 10Present Continuous and Present Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 14Present Perfect, Past Perfect, Present Perfect Continuous, and Past Perfect Continuous
Verb Tense Exercise 15Tenses with durations
Verb Tense Exercise 16Present and Past Tenses with Non-Continuous Verbs
Verb Tense Exercise 17Present and Past Tense Review
Verb Tense Practice TestCumulative Verb Tense Review
Verb Tense Final TestCumulative Verb Tense Review
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