Examiners love the present perfect continuous, as we are able to use it to give further information to basic questions and show that we have a good command of the English language.

For example:

If the examiner asks “Do you study English?”  there are several correct answers that we can give

  • Yes
  • Yes I do
  • Yes, I study English

Or, the best answer……. Yes, I have been studying English for 2 years.

Let’s now study how we form the present perfect continuous……. Enjoy!


How do we make the Present Perfect Continuous Tense?

The structure of the present perfect continuous tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb + auxiliary verb + main verb
have
has
been base + ing

Here are some examples of the present perfect continuous tense:

+

I

have

 

been

studying

for 2 years

+

You

have

 

been

flying

too much.

It

has

not

been

raining.

 

We

have

not

been

going

recently

?

Have

you

 

been

seeing

her?

?

Have

they

 

been

doing

their homework?

 

I have been I’ve been
You have been You’ve been
He has been
She has been
It has been
John has been
The car has been
He’s been
She’s been
It’s been
John’s been
The car’s been
We have been We’ve been
They have been They’ve been

When we use the present perfect continuous tense in spoken English, we often contract the subject and the first auxiliary

Here are some examples:

  • I’ve been reading.
  • The engine’s been giving trouble.
  • We’ve been flying for two hours.

How do we use the Present Perfect Continuous Tense?

This tense is called the present perfect continuous tense. There is usually a connection with the present or now. There are basically two uses for the present perfect continuous tense:

1. An action that has just stopped or recently stopped

We use the present perfect continuous tense to talk about an action that started in the past and stopped recently. There is usually a result now.

  • I’m tired [now] because I‘ve been running.
  • Why is the grass wet [now]Has it been raining?
  • You don’t understand [now] because you haven’t been listening 

2. An action continuing up to now

We use the present perfect continuous tense to talk about an action that started in the past and is continuing now. This is often used with for or since.

  • For and Since with Present Perfect Continuous Tensehave been reading for 2 hours. [I am still reading now.]
  • We‘ve been studying since 9 o’clock. [We’re still studying now.]
  • How long have you been learning English? [You are still learning now.]
  • We have not been smoking. [And we are not smoking now.]

We often use for and since with the present perfect tense.

  • We use for to talk about a period of time – 5 minutes, 2 weeks, 6 years.
  • We use since to talk about a point in past time – 9 o’clock, 1st January, Monday.
for since
a period of time a point in past time
20 minutes 6.15pm
three days Monday
6 months January
4 years 1994
2 centuries 1800
a long time I left school
ever the beginning of time
etc etc

Here are some examples:

  • I have been studying for 3 hours.
  • I have been watching TV since 7pm.
  • Tara hasn’t been feeling well for 2 weeks.
  • Tara hasn’t been visiting us since March.
  • He has been playing football for a long time.
  • He has been living in Bangkok since he left school.