What have you been doing lately? Have you been working out? Have you been studying? Have you been sleeping well?
July’s Grammar Lesson of the Month is the Present Perfect Progressive (also called the Present Perfect Continuous). Today we are reviewing the tense and one of the most common questions our students have when they study the tense: when to use it and when to use the Present Perfect instead.
The format of the Present Perfect Progressive
has/have + been + ing
I have been dieting.
I have been studying Italian.
She has been living in London.
My shoulder has been hurting lately.
They have been waiting for a long time.
We have been walking for hours!
When do we use the Present Perfect Progressive?
We use this tense to talk about things that started at some point in the past and continue until today, such as the example questions at the beginning of this lesson. We often use it to talk about habits and things we have been doing lately.
The Present Perfect Progressive vs. The Present Perfect
Many students are confused about when to use the Present Perfect and when to use the Present Perfect Progressive because there are some times when it is ok to use either tense. For example, you can say:
“I have worn glasses for two years.”
OR, you can say:
“I have been wearing glasses for two years.”
Is there a difference? Not really! Both are grammatically correct. No wonder our students are often confused! A general rule is that you can use the Present Perfect or the Present Perfect Progressive when you talk about something that you do every day. Here are some verbs that you can use with both tenses:
wear (glasses, hairstyle, trend)
Another important rule for the Present Perfect Progressive
An important rule to remember about this tense is that you cannot use it with stative (non-action) verbs. You can only use action verbs with the Present Perfect Progressive.
Sentences with the Present Perfect Progressive and a non-action verb should be changed to the Present Perfect.
Incorrect: I have been loving her for two years.
Correct: I have loved her for two years.
Incorrect: I have been wanting a computer for a long time.
Correct: I have wanted a computer for a long time.
Check back later this month for some practice use the Present Perfect Progressive. Happy July!