Chapter 5-8-4: The Present Perfect Progressive / Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Grammar > Using Verbs > Verb Tenses > Present Perfect Continuous

I have been flying aircraft for 8 years.” “I have been building planes since 2010.

WHEN TO USE IT: like the present perfect, the present perfect progressive (also referred to as the present perfect continuous) is used to describe an action, event, or condition that has begun in the past and continues into the present (or very recently / lately). The present perfect progressive, however, is used to stress the on-going (continuous) nature of that action, condition, or event.

FORM: [has/have + been + present participle]

* Grammar vocabulary: “has / have” and “been” are both called “auxiliary verbs”. The “present participle” is called the “main verb”.

  • Use #1: 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.

Each of the highlighted verbs in the following sentences is in the present perfect progressive tense and each sentence suggests that the action began in the past and is continuing into the present.

        • That dog has been barking for three hours; I wonder if someone will call the owner.

        • They have been publishing this comic book for ten years.

        • We have been seeing geese flying south all afternoon.

        • Even though the coroner has been carefully examining the corpse discovered in Sutherland's Gully since early this morning, we still do not know the cause of death.

  • Use #2: 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.

        • He has been looking everywhere for his shoes.

        • Has he been looking for his glasses, again?

        • I have been relying on my Christmas bonus to pay for the gifts I buy for my large family.

        • Our son has been learning how to read.

  • We often use “for” and “since” with the present perfect continuous tense.

      • We use “for” to talk about a period of time - 10 minutes, 3 weeks, 8 years.

        • I have been typing for 3 hours.

        • Mike hasn't been feeling well for 2 weeks

      • We use “since” to talk about a point in past time - 7 o'clock, 1st January, Sunday.

        • Terry hasn't been visiting us since March.

        • He has been living in Montreal since he left school.

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