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The present perfect continuous

Have you been following my blog recently? If you have, you've already read this post on the present perfect simple, so now it's time to see how to use the present perfect continuous! The biggest problem with the present perfect continuous is knowing when to use it instead of the present perfect simple because sometimes the difference is quite small between the two! Hopefully this post will help you to differentiate between simple and continuous situations, so here we go!


Just as we saw with the present perfect simple, there are some basic rules that you need to know before jumping into the specifics:

  1. The present perfect continuous implies that an action started in the past and is still in progress now, but will eventually end (temporary situation).

  2. It is used to say "for how long" an action has been in progress, but just like with the present perfect simple, it is never used to say exactly when.

Now we can see the rules and some examples of how to use it!

​Rule or use


  • Use when you want to say how long an action has been in progress for (the action is not finished).

  • She's been running for 4 hours/since 8 a.m.! She must be exhausted!

*for + number

*since + moment in time

  • Use it to talk about an action that has been in progress for some time, but will finish in the future (temporary situation).

  • He's been living in the UK for the past 5 years, but he wants to return to Italy.

  • Use it to talk about a recent change in routine with the words recently and lately.

  • I haven't been sleeping well lately, I think it's because I'm stressed!

  • He's been travelling a lot this month, hopefully next month he is home more.

  • Use it to talk about an action that may or may not be finished (this isn't important) but that has a very visible consequence in the present.

  • Alex the dog, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN EATING?? Your face is all white!

  • I've been cooking all morning, sorry the kitchen is so messy!


Stay tuned for the next grammar post - the difference between the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous - that's where the real trouble is! Hopefully this post has cleared up some of your doubts regarding the present perfect continuous, and if you have more questions, leave me a comment!



  • differentiate: to show a difference between 2 or more things

  • jumping into: phrasal verb - to start something too quickly

  • messy: synonym for dirty, unorganized

  • clear up: phrasal verb - in this context, to resolve

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