Present Perfect Continuous

Present Perfect Continuous – Tema 1 (Avanzado)

Uses:

Unfinished actions

1: To say how long for unfinished actions which started in the past and continue to the present. We often use this with ‘for’ and ‘since’ (see the the present perfect simple page for more about ‘for’ and ‘since’).

  • I’ve been living in London for two years.
  • She’s been working here since 2004.
  • We’ve been waiting for the bus for hours.

This use is very similar to how we use the present perfect simple, and often it’s possible to use either tense. Of course, with stative verbs, we can’t use the present perfect continuous.

  • I’ve been here for hours.
  • NOT:.

 

2: For temporary habits or situations. The action started in the past and continues to the present in the same way as with use number 1, but we don’t answer the questions about ‘how long’ so clearly. Instead, we use a word like ‘recently’.

  • I’ve been going to the gym a lot recently.
  • They’ve been living with his mother while they look for a house.
  • I’ve been reading a lot recently.

This is very similar to the use of the present continuous for temporary habits and often either tense is possible.

 

Finished actions

3: Actions which have recently stopped (though the whole action can be unfinished) and have a result, which we can often see, hear, or feel, in the present. We don’t use a time word here.

  • I’m so tired, I’ve been studying.
  • I’ve been running, so I’m really hot.
  • It’s been raining so the pavement is wet.

The present perfect simple has a very similar use, which focuses on the result of the action, whereas the present perfect continuous focuses on the action itself.

Luckily, it’s very easy to make. Here’s the positive (it’s the present perfect of ‘be’ + verb -ing):

Positive Positive Short Form
have been walking I‘ve been walking
you have been running you‘ve been running
he has been cooking he‘s been cooking
she has been swimming she‘s been swimming
it has been raining it‘s been raining
we have been studying we‘ve been studying
they have been sleeping they‘ve been sleeping

 

To make the negative, just add ‘not’:

Negative Negative Short Form
I have not been walking I haven’t been walking
you have not been running you haven’t been running
he has not been cooking he hasn’t been cooking
she has not been swimming she hasn’t been swimming
it has not been raining it hasn’t been raining
we have not been studying we haven’t been studying
they have not been sleeping they haven’t been sleeping

 

Can you guess how to make the question form of the present perfect continuous? It’s not very difficult – just put ‘have’ or ‘has’ before the subject:

‘Yes / No’ Questions
have I been walking?
have you been running?
has he been cooking?
has she been swimming?
has it been raining?
have we been studying?
have they been sleeping?

For ‘wh’ questions put the question word first:

‘Yes / No’ Questions
what have I been doing?
where have you been running?
what has he been studying?
why has she been working today?
how long has it been raining?
how long have we been watching this film?
how long have they been living here?