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.
- Statement: You have been waiting here for two hours.
- Question: Have you been waiting here for two hours?
- Negative: You have not been waiting here for two hours.
Present Perfect Continuous Uses
USE 1 Duration from the Past Until Now
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.
- 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
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.
- 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?
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.
- Sam has been having his car for two years. Not Correct
- Sam has had his car for two years. Correct
The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.
- You have only been waiting here for one hour.
- Have you only been waiting here for one hour?
ACTIVE / PASSIVE
- 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.