The Present Perfect Continuous

The Present Perfect Continuous shows an action happening over a period of time. Here the period lasts up to the present. In other words the The Present Perfect Continuous shows an action happening over a period of time leading up to the present. In some cases the action may be still going on.

Here are some examples of examples of present perfect continuous tense:

  • You’re out of breath. Have you been running? (you are out of breath now.)
  • Parvaiz is very tired. He has been working very hard. (he’s tired now)
  • Masrat has been reading. (she perhaps is still reading)
  • Weve been standing here for 3 hours.
  • Have you been waiting long?
  • Our team hasn’t been doing very well lately.
  • Why are your clothes dirty? What have you been doing?


The structure of The Present Perfect Continuous is given below:

Have/has + been + main verb ( an -ing form.)

Affirmative: subject + have/has + been + -ing form of main verb.


  • I/you/they/ we have been waiting.
  • He/she/it/your friend has been waiting.

Negative: subject + have/has + not been + -ing form of main verb


  • I/you/they/we have not been waiting.
  • He/she/it/your friend has not been waiting.

Question: have/has + subject + been + -ing form of the verb.


  • Have I/you/they/we been waiting?
  • Has he/she/it/your friend been waiting?

Where to use

1. To express an action that began in the past, happened over a period of time and has recently or just stopped.

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  • I have been swimming. That’s why my hair is wet.
  • You’re looking sick. Have you been eating raw apples?
  • I’m really tired. I have been working the whole day.
  • Why are your clothes so wet? I have been watering the garden.
  • Why are your eyes wet? Have you been playing computer games for a long time?
  • The girls haven’t been playing badminton. They are playing now.
  • My friends have been travelling around the world for three months. Now they are not in the position to travel anymore.

2. To express an action which started in the past and is still continuing at the moment of speaking.


  • We’ve been waiting here for twenty minutes (we’re waiting now)
  • Listen that alarm has been ringing since nine o’clock.
  • Tanveer is still watching television. He has been watching television all day.
  • Rouf has been living in Hyderabad since 1990.
  • Murtaza has been swimming for a hour. He is not tired yet.
  • Mohammad has been waiting for six hours. He is still waiting.
  • How long have you been reading the book?

3. To talk about repeated actions up to now.


  • Nuzhat has been playing Piano since she was four.
  • Davood is very good cricket player. He has been playing since he was six.
  • Every evening they meet in the same café. They’ve been doing there for five years.

4. With recently and lately.


  • I haven’t been feeling very well recently.
  • What have you been doing lately?

Note: Recently and lately both mean in the last few days or weeks.

4. We can use the Present Perfect Continuous with for and since.


  • My sister has been staying with me for three weeks now.
  • I’ve been wanting to do that for ten years.
  • He’s been working here since 2001.
  • You have been playing on the computer since 8 o’clock.

5. We use how long in questions.


  • How long have you been waiting?

Remember: while speaking, we use the shortened or contracted form of have, has.

He has → he’s
I have → I’ve
It has → it’s

6. We can use it to refer to an action that has finished but you can still see evidence.

  • Oh, the kitchen is a mess. Who has been cooking?
  • You look tired. Have you been sleeping properly?
  • I’ve got a a stiff neck. I’ve been working too long on computer.

7 . It can refer to an action that has not finished.

  • Ive been learning Spanish for 20 years and I still don’t know very much.
  • I’ve been waiting for him for 30 minutes and he still hasn’t arrived.
  • He’s been telling me about it for days. I wish he would stop.

8. It can refer to a series of actions.

  • She’s been writing to her regularly for a couple of years.
  • He’s been phoning me all week for an answer.
  • The university has been sending students here for over twenty years to do work experience.

The present perfect continuous is often used with ‘all week’, ‘for days’, ‘lately’, ‘recently’, ‘over the last few months’.

  • They haven’t been working all week. They’re on strike
  • He hasn’t been talking to me for weeks.
  • We’ve been working hard on it for ages.
  • I’ve been looking at other options recently.
  • You haven’t been getting good results over the last few months.
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Present Perfect Continuous Vs Present Perfect Pimple

We use the Present Perfect Continuous for an action happening over a period of time and we use the Present Perfect Simple for a complete action.

Present Perfect Continuous: Over a period (have been doing)

  • We have been touring Kashmir.
  • A strong wind has been blowing all day.
  • Wahid is out of breath, he has been running.
  • I have been writing an essay. I’m tired now.

Present Perfect Simple: Complete action ( have done)

  • We have finished our tour of Kashmir.
  • The wind has blown a tree over.
  • Wahid is here at last. He has run all the way.
  • I have written an essay. I can hand it in now.

We normally use the Present Perfect Continuous when we say how long.


  • Rahim has been playing music all day.
  • I’ve been ironing shirt since tn o’clock.
  • How long have you been learning to drive?

We normally use the present perfect form when we say how much/how many.


  • Rahim has played at least twenty CD’s.
  • I’ve ironed light shirts.
  • How many driving lessons have you had?

We can’t normally use the continuous form with a state verb.


  • I’ve known the secret for a long time. (Not I’ve been knowing the secret.)
  • My parents have had this car for about ten years.
  • Weve never been very happy here, I am afraid.

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