Present Perfect Continuous Tense. Free English Lesson with Test and Certificate.
Quick Present Perfect Continuous Tense study for SAT, IELTS, TESOL and other exams.
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How to use the present perfect continuous tense in English
We use the present perfect continuous to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. For example, “I have been working with you for the last three months.”
Here’s a few more examples:
- She has been sneezing since she got here.
- Why has Nancy not been taking her medicine for the last three days?
- What have you been doing since I left?
- Recently, I have been feeling really tired.
- What have they been doing?
Your English lesson about the Present Perfect Continuous Tense
Welcome to the Present Perfect tense lesson! In this lesson, you will learn many of the general rules about the present perfect tense, its structure, and its common uses.
The present perfect continuous is formed like this:
[has/have + been + present participle]
We use the present perfect continuous tense to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Friday" are examples of durations which can be used with the present perfect continuous.
Let’s see how this works with a few examples:
She has been sneezing since she got here.
I have been working with you for the last three months.
What have you been doing since I left?
Why has Nancy not been taking her medicine for the last three days?
Matt has not been teaching at the university since June.
You can see from one of the above examples that the question form of the present perfect continuous looks like this:
[has/have + subject + been + present participle]
And for the negative form we place not between has/have and been.
More present perfect continuous tense exercises
You can also use the present perfect continuous tense WITHOUT a duration. Without the duration, the tense has a more general meaning of "lately." We often use the words "lately" or "recently" to emphasize this meaning. You can also think of this as actions which have just stopped and have a result, which we can often see, hear, or feel, in the present.
Recently, I have been feeling really tired.
Lately, Susan has been coming late.
Have you been jogging lately?
What have they been doing?
I haven't been studying much recently.
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 the present perfect continuous with these verbs, you must use present perfect.
Non-continuous verbs. Verbs that cannot be used in continuous forms are usually verbs that you cannot see somebody doing. They are:
Abstract verbs: Be, want, cost, need, care, contain, owe, exist, etc.
Possession verbs: Own, belong, possess, etc.
Emotion verbs: Like, love, hate, dislike, fear, envy, etc.
This sentence is incorrect:
Sam has been having his car for two years.
This sentence is correct:
Sam has had his car for two years.
It’s story time
Now that we’ve learned a lot about the present perfect continuous tense, let’s see how this is used in a short story. As you read the following story, pay attention to how the present perfect continuous is used.
“What’s up Mike! How are you?” Tom shouted. “Hey Tom, good to see you,” said Mike. “Actually, things haven’t been going so well for me lately. I’m on my way to work; do you want to walk with me?” Mike continued.
While they walked, Mike explained that he has been having a hard time sleeping. Subsequently, his performance at work has been getting worse. His boss has been giving him a hard time about it. And finally, Mike’s health has been suffering because of the lack of sleep.
“Wow, that sounds bad,” Tom said. “When did this start? What do you think is causing the sleep problems? You should see a doctor.”
At that point, Mike finally told Tom that he has been thinking about breaking up with his girlfriend. “I’m not 100% sure Tom, but I think she has been cheating on me,” he said. Mike continued to explain that one time recently he had been looking at her cellphone and he noticed many chat messages with other guys. Tom said, “Wait a minute. Just because she has been chatting doesn’t mean she has been cheating. Did you read anything specific that made you think that she has been doing more than just chatting?”
Mike admitted that there hadn’t been anything obvious. However, the quantity of chat messages was significant. Mike complained, “She has been talking to other guys on chat apps more than she has been talking to me.” Tom responded quickly, “She doesn’t need to send you messages. She sees you in person all the time.”
“My best advice,” Tom continued, “is to talk to her about it directly. This situation has been killing you. You might even lose your job.” Mike said that he agreed with Tom, but as they said goodbye, Tom got the feeling that Mike wasn’t going to actually confront his girlfriend.
That’s the end of the lesson on the present perfect continuous tense.
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