Present Continuous vs Present Perfect

There are similarities and differences between present continuous and present perfect, which might cause confusion. To learn more, click here!

What is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between present continuous and present perfect is that present continuous talks about ongoing actions while present perfect talks about previously started actions.

Uses and Comparison

1. Actions Happening Now

While both tenses refer to actions that are happening at this moment, there is a detail that you need to pay attention to. Present continuous refers to actions that started and are continuing in the present. while present perfect refers to actions that started in the past and are still ongoing right now.

You are learning English grammar.

Here, we are referring to an action that started only moments ago and is still ongoing.

You have been learning English grammar.

Here, we are referring to an action that started so long ago and is still going on at this moment.

2. Actions in the Future

We use present continuous tense to talk about an action or event in the future which we already planned in advance. We also use the present perfect tense to talk about the future using clauses with 'before,' 'after,' 'until,' etc.

I am visiting my grandparents this weekend.

Here, we are referring to a pre-planned event.

I will keep looking until I have found the perfect title.

Here, we are talking about an action in the future.which

3. Frequent Actions

We use present continuous tense with words such as 'always,' 'forever,' 'constantly' to talk about a continuing series of repeated actions or events. We also use present perfect tense to talk about repeated actions in an unspecified period between the past and present.

They are constantly arguing.

Here, we are talking about an action being done in a constant frequency by the subject.

They have argued frequently.

Here, we are talking about an action being frequently done by the subject.

4. Finished Actions

We tend to talk about experiences. To do so, we use the present perfect tense.

I have visited Paris.

Here, we are referring to an experience from the past.

I am visiting Paris.

Here, we are referring to an ongoing action.

5. Sport Commentaries

We have mentioned before that present continuous is used to talk about an action that is happening right now. That is why we hear this tense in sports commentaries in which we are talking about actions that are happening right now.

He is overtaking his teammate.

Here, we have an ongoing action that is happening exactly right now.

He has overtook his teammate.

Here, it seems as if the action was started way back and is still ongoing.

6. Reports and Broadcast

While present continuous is used in sports commentaries, wee use present perfect in reports and broadcasts. In this case, news broadcasters use it to introduce headlines.

The president has made her decision on environmental issues.

Here, we can see a headline reporting about a situation.

The president is making her decision on environmental issues.

This sentence could be correct if it was a live broadcast. But when it is a headline, this is incorrect.

Structure

Now that we have discussed uses and compared the two tenses, lets us talk about structure.

1. Present Continuous Tense

This tense is created using the following pattern:

subject + to be + gerund + complement or object.

As you can see in the pattern above, we use the present simple of the verb 'to be' followed by the present participle of the main verb.

Subject verb to be Present Participle
I am studying
You/We/They are talking
He/She/It is working

2. Present Perfect Tense

When we creating present perfect tense we tend to follow the following pattern:

subject + have/has + past participle

As you can see in this pattern, present perfect is made of the present tense of 'have,' followed by the past participle of the main verb.

Subject Have Past Participle
I/You/We/They have walked
He/She/It has slept

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