Present Perfect Progressive

Form

have/ has + been + V3

Use of Present Perfect Progressive

  • puts emphasis on the duration or course of an action (not the result)

    She has been writing for two hours.

  • action that is still going on

    have been living here since 2013; They have been thinking about going to Greece on holiday. (They haven’t decided yet)

  • recent finished action that still influences the presenthave been working all afternoon.

Signal Words of Present Perfect Progressive

  • all day, all week, for 4 years, since 1993, how long?, the whole week, lately

Compared to Present Perfect Simple

In many cases, both forms are correct, but there is often a difference in meaning: We use the Present Perfect Simple mainly to express that an action is completed or to emphasise the result. We use the Present Perfect Progressive to emphasise the duration or continuous course of an action (how has somebody spent his time).

They have written several dialogues this morning.

They have been writing dialogues all morning.

I have typed 16 letters so far this morning and I feel like I have been typing for a week

The progressive is used for incomplete actions:

Who has been eating my porridge? (there is still some left)

While the simple is used to express a completed action:

Who has eaten my porridge? (There is non left)

Another difference is that we use the Present Perfect Progressive to speak about more temporary situations and actions, and the Present Perfect Simple to speak about more permanent situations and actions. 

James has lived in this town for 10 years. (Meaning: He is a permanent resident of this town.)

James has been living here for a year. (Meaning: This situation is only temporary. Maybe he is an exchange student and only here for one or two years.)

Stative verbs- are not usually expressed in the prog form

I have known him since 1990.

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