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Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #5898: Present perfect : continuous or simple
Present perfect : continuous or simple
The present perfect continuous and the present perfect.
We use the present perfect continuous to express the idea of an activity (a task, piece of work, etc.) in progress until recently or until the time of speaking:
=> Have you been working in the garden all day? You look exhausted.
=> She's been writing the book since she was in her twenties and at last it's finished.Notice that we often use time expressions to say how long the activity has been in progress.
We don't use the perfect continuous with verbs such as belong, know, (dis)like, and understand that describe unchanging states:=> Have you known each other long? (Not Have you been knowing...)=> I haven't liked cream since I ate too much and was sick, (not I haven't been liking...)
When we talk about situations (general characteristics or circumstances) that exist until the present we often use either the present perfect or present perfect continuous:
=> Where's Dr Owen's office?' 'Sorry, I don't know. I haven't been working here for long.'(Or I haven't worked here for long).
Present perfect continuous emphasises the activity of working; present perfect emphasises the state of having a job)=> We've been looking forward to this holiday for ages. (Or we've looked forward to…. Present perfect continuous emphasises a mental process; present perfect emphasises a mental state.
We often use the present perfect or the present perfect continuous to talk about something that has recently finished if we can still see its results. However, we generally use the present perfect continuous with verbs that suggest extended or repeated activity.
Compare:=> He's broken his finger and is in a lot of pain, (not He's been breaking...) and=> He's been playing all afternoon and needs a shower! (More likely than He's played)
We use the present perfect continuous rather than the present perfect when we draw a conclusion from what we can see, hear, etc. We often use this form to complain or criticise:=> Who's been messing around with my papers? They're all over the place.=> You've been eating chocolate, haven't you? There's some on your shirt.
When we talk about the result of circumstances or an activity, we use the present perfect, rather than the present perfect continuous. When we focus on the process we often use either the present perfect or the present perfect continuous.Compare: => Prices have decreased by 7%. (not Prices have been decreasing by 7 %.) and=> Prices have been decreasing recently, (or Prices have decreased...)=> I've used three tins of paint on the kitchen walls, (not I've been using three tins of paint on the kitchen walls.) and=> I've been using a new kind of paint on the kitchen walls, (or I've used...)
We use the present perfect continuous to emphasise that an activity is ongoing and repeated, while the present perfect suggests that the activity happened only once or on a specified number of occasions:=> Joseph has been kicking a football against the wall all day. (more likely than ...has kicked...) => He has played for the national team in 65 matches so far. (not He has been playing for the national team in 65 matches so far.) Compare: => The workers have been calling for the chairman's resignation. (=emphasises a number of times, probably over an extended period)
=> Workers have called for management to begin negotiations on pay. (= maybe a number of times or only once.)
Complete this text with either the present perfect continuous or the present perfect form of the verbs in brackets.
Use the contractions in negatives
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