English Grammar Course Unit 17: Present perfect continuous Tense (I have been doing) or Present perfect simple Tense (I have done)?

Why should you study this unit?

This unit deals with the present perfect continuous or present perfect simple. In any situation, there is action and result. In the present perfect continuous tense, the action is more important than the result. So for example, she was cleaning the room because it was very untidy. On the other hand, in simple present perfect simple the result is more important than the result. Example: The room was untidy, but she has now cleaned it.

Read on to learn more about the difference and also for more examples.

A. Study these example situations:

Gita’s clothes are covered in paint. She has been painting the ceiling.

Has been painting is the present perfect continuous tense.

We are interested in the action. It does not matter whether something has been finished or not. In the example, the action has not been finished.

Here are some pairs of examples:

Tom’s hands are very dirty. He has been fixing the car.

You’ve been smoking too much lately. You should smoke less.

B. We use the continuous form to say how long something has been happening:

Rita has been writing letters all day.

How long have you .been reading that book?

Jack has been playing tennis since 2:00.

C. Some verbs are not used in the continuous form, for example know. You have to say have known (not have been knowing). For a list of these verbs see section B of Unit 3.


A. Study these example situations:

The ceiling was white. Now it’s blue. She has painted the ceiling.

Has painted is the present perfect simple tense.

This time, the important thing is that something has been finished. We are interested in the result of the action, not in the action itself.

The car is working again now. Tom has fixed it.

Somebody has smoked all my cigarettes. The packet is empty.

B. We use the simple form to say how much we have done, how many things we have done, or how many times we have done something:

Rita  has written ten letters today.

How many pages of that book have you read?

Jim has played tennis three times this week.

See Unit 18 for more information about the present perfect and how long?

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