English Grammar Course Unit 16: Present perfect continuous Tense (I have been doing)

Why should you study this unit?

In the previous unit we discussed the usage of present perfect. We use the present perfect continuous to talk about something that started in the past and stopped only recently or just now. So if you have to talk about simple day to day activities like talking, walking or eating, this unit will help you learn how.

English Grammar Course Unit 16: Present perfect continuous Tense

A. Study this example situation:

Is it raining?
No, it isn’t, but the ground is wet.
It has been raining.
This is the present perfect continuous tense:
I1we/they/you have (= I’ve, etc.) } been doing

he/she/it has (= he’s, etc.) } been doing

We use the present perfect continuous when we talk about an action that began in the past and has recently stopped or just stopped. Here are some examples:
You’re out of breath. Have you been running?
Why are your clothes so dirty? What have you been doing?
I’ve been talking to Tom about your problem, and he thinks …

B. We also use the present perfect continuous to ask or say how long something has been happening. This time the action or situation began in the past and is still happening or has just stopped. Study this example:

It is raining now. It began to rain two hours ago, and it is still raining.

It has been raining for two hours.

We often use the present perfect continuous in this way, especially with how long, for, and since.

Here are some more examples:

How long have you been studying English?
They‘ve been waiting here for over an hour.
I‘ve been watching television since 2:00.
George hasn’t been feeling very well lately.
Have you been working hard today?

You can also use the present perfect continuous (with how long, for, and since) for actions repeated over a period of time:
She has been playing tennis since she was eight.
How long have you been smoking?

For more information about the present perfect + since/for, see Unit 18 and Unit 19. For the difference between the present perfect simple and present perfect continuous, see Unit 17 and Unit 18.

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