Published 17th September 2018

Present Perfect Continuous

The Present Perfect Continuous is used to show that an action started in the past and hasn’t finished yet.

It is formed using have or has with the auxiliary word ‘been’ and adding ‘ing’ at the end of the verb. For example:

  • I have been waiting for half an hour. (I’m still waiting)
  • It has been snowing for hours. (It’s still snowing)

When we use the present perfect continuous in speech we normally use a contracted subject and verb to form I’ve, they’ve and we’ve. So, I have been waiting becomes I’ve been waiting.

It’s also used for actions that started in the past and have only just finished:

  • He has been studying all day
  • He’s been cleaning since this morning

When you have a sentence with a verb that doesn’t use the present perfect continuous, you use the present perfect instead. These are verbs such as:

  • Want
  • Know
  • Hate
  • Heard
  • Understood
  • Need
  • Belong

So, they will read:

  • I have wanted one of those for ages
  • I’ve hated carrots since I was a child
  • She’s heard a lot of stories about him
  • I have never needed much money
  • I have always belonged to a club in some form or another

In the negative the present perfect continuous uses have not and has not, usually in the short form, so you would say hasn’t and haven’t.

  • She hasn’t been living here very long
  • He hasn’t been running since the summer
  • They haven’t been travelling for years

Question words using the present perfect continuous use have and has:

  • Have you been living in London long?
  • Has she been studying all day?
  • Have we ever been to Scotland?

Question words quite often have the words how long at the beginning:

  • How long have you been waiting here?
  • How long have you been cooking professionally?

So you’ve now revised the present perfect continuous tense.

Read our  blog easy ways to make learning  grammar more interesting.