Present Perfect Continuous Tense in English Grammar
The present perfect continuous tense is a special tense in terms of time. Why? Because it connects the present and the past. Let’s see how.
Present Perfect Continuous
The present perfect continuous tense (also called present perfect progressive) just like present perfect simple can be used to talk about past actions or states which are still connected to the present. Their difference is that the present perfect simple normally focuses on the result of the activity, and the present perfect continuous normally focuses on the process of the activity. Let's compare these examples:
Here the tense of the sentence is present perfect, therefore the focus is on the result.
Here the tense of the sentence is present perfect continuous, therefore the focus is on the activity.
Present Perfect Continuous: Structure
The present perfect continuous is comprised of the present perfect of the verb 'to be' (have/has been), and the present participle of the main verb (verb+ing).
|Subject||present perfect of be||present participle|
When we use the present perfect continuous tense in speaking, we often contract the subject and auxiliary verb 'have'.
Present Perfect Continuous: Negation
For negative sentences you put 'not' between the auxiliary verb 'have' and the auxiliary verb 'be'.
In negative sentences, we can contract the auxiliary verb 'have' and 'not'. See the examples:
Present Perfect Continuous: Questions
For yes/no question sentences, we exchange the subject and 'have'. Look at these example sentences with the present perfect continuous tense:
For wh- question sentences, do the exact thing you do for yes/no questions and add the proper wh- question word at the beginning of the sentence and omit the part that is the answer.
Present Participle: Spelling Rules
We make the Present Participle by adding -ing to the verb. Normally we just add -ing. But sometimes we have to change the word a little. Here are the rules to help you know how to spell the Present Participle:
- If the verb ends in consonant + stressed vowel + consonant, double the last letter.
- If the verb ends in consonant + unstressed vowel + consonant, (the base verb is not stressed) do not double the last letter.
open → opening
- If the verb ends in 'ie', change the 'ie' to 'y'.
- If the verb ends in vowel + consonant + 'e', omit the 'e'.
Present Perfect Continuous: Uses
When someone uses the present continuous, they are thinking about:
Recently-Finished Past Actions
- We use the present perfect continuous tense to talk about actions that have stopped recently, but we are interested in the results.
Still-ongoing Past Actions
- We use the present perfect continuous tense to talk about action that started in the past and is continuing now. This is often used with for or since.
It means she's still waiting now.
It means the speaker still hasn't finished it.
For and Since
We use 'since' with a fixed point in time in the past (2004, April 23rd, last year). The fixed time can be another action, which is in the past simple (since I was at school, since I arrived). We use 'for' with a period of time (2 hours, three years, six months).
When Not to Use Present Perfect Continuous Tense
We do not normally use the continuous with stative verbs (also called non-continuous verbs). These verbs are normally used in the simple form because they refer to states, rather than actions or progresses. Use the simple present perfect with verbs such as 'know, hate, hear, understand, want'.