Present perfect: simple and continuous

Sophie is working in Dubai but Amy was hoping she may be able to ask her a favour.

Instructions

As you watch the video, look at the examples of present perfect simple and continuous. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, present perfect simple and continuous correctly.

Transcript

Amy: So is your mum home?
Daisy: No, she’s not. She’s … Oliver? Where’s Mum? I’ve forgotten.
Oliver: In Dubai. She’s been writing about the architecture there.
Daisy: Ah, yeah. She’s been travelling so much recently. I never remember where she is. Why? What were you going to ask her?
Amy: Oh, nothing much. My Chinese teacher has given me some homework to interview ‘an interesting person’, and translate it into Chinese for Monday. And your mum’s been writing her blog for years now, hasn’t she? She’s already visited lots of places, and hasn’t she won some awards?
Daisy: She’s only won one. But yeah, she won a big award earlier this year. Anyway, Oliver’s just made some cake. Do you want some? Mum’ll probably call soon. And if she doesn’t, you can interview Oliver!
Amy: Oliver? Your brother, Oliver???
Daisy: Yeah, why not? He’s going to be a master chef, you know. He’s been learning to make amazing food and he’s been practising his baking too. And he’s travelled loads!
Amy: OK, you’ve convinced me!
Daisy: Hi! How’s Dubai?
Sophie: Fine, it’s good. There’s a constant mist of desert sand, but it’s an interesting place. Particularly considering the city has only really been here a couple of decades. It was a port for a long time before, but the modern city of Dubai is new.
Daisy: What have you seen so far?
Sophie: Well, I’ve been in the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building – the one in that film with Tom Cruise. It’s incredible! And I’ve eaten at the Burj Al Arab too! That’s the hotel that looks like a yacht sail. It is so luxurious! I haven’t been to the palm tree island yet, that’s tomorrow.
Daisy: Have you bought any souvenirs? A Ferrari?
Sophie: Ha! No, I haven’t had time yet but I’ll bring you something, even if it’s only sand!

We use the present perfect simple (have/has + past participle) or present perfect continuous (have/has + been + -ing) to talk about a state or an activity that has a link to the present.

Oh, the present perfect! It’s quite tricky!

Well, no, it’s quite logical, but it does have different uses. We often use present perfect for talking about something which happened in the past which is important now.

My Chinese teacher has given me some homework. (= I have the homework to do now.)
I’ve forgotten. (= I can’t remember now.)
She’s broken her leg. (= Her leg is still broken now.)

We also use present perfect with just for talking about a recent action.

Oliver’s just made a cake.

So that’s important now because I could have some cake?

Yes, that could be the reason. But with just for recent actions we usually use present perfect, anyway.

OK, but why can’t I say ‘Ollie’s been making a cake’?

You could, but then the focus would be more on the action rather than the result. Maybe you are explaining why the kitchen is in a mess. We use the present perfect simple more when there is a result in the present (like the cake) and the present perfect continuous more when the action is important.

Umm, OK. So you would say ‘She’s been travelling a lot recently.’

Exactly. Because we’re more interested in the action than the result.

Is the present perfect only used for recent events?

No, not at all. We also use it for life experiences which happened at any time in the past. The person’s life, which continues in the present, is the link to the present.

She’s won an award.
Sophie has been to Berlin before.

So, she could have been to Berlin last month or ten years ago?

Exactly, we don’t know when and it isn’t important. If you wanted to say when, you would have to use the past simple: Sophie went to Berlin ten years ago.

We also use the present perfect for actions or states that are unfinished.

Your mum’s been writing her blog for years now, hasn’t she?

She is still writing the blog now, so the action isn’t complete.

Could I say ‘She’s written her blog for years’?

No. We usually use the present perfect continuous for talking about the length of time something goes on for, with phrases like for years, for a long time, etc.

What about using still, already and yet?

We use already to talk about something which has been done, and usually this is surprising to the speaker.

Wow, that was quick! You’ve finished your homework already.

Yet is mainly used in questions and negatives to talk about something which hasn’t happened, but which you thought would happen in the past and you expect to happen in the future.

I haven’t had time yet.
Have you seen
her new blog yet?

We use still to talk about something which is going on longer than you expect.

They’ve been doing things with that computer for ages, but they still haven’t fixed it.

OK, I feel like I’ve been understanding more about the present perfect today.

Oh, sorry, you can’t say ‘I’ve been understanding’. Do you remember when we looked at the present continuous? There are certain verbs, called state verbs, which we don’t usually use in the continuous form – verbs for talking about emotions, thinking, existing, appearing, possession and the senses.

Oh, yes. You gave me a list of them.

That’s right, they’re in the Grammar Snack on the present continuous.

Right, I’ll look at them again. Well, we’ve been talking for ages

For a few minutes!

Yes, but I’ve learned a lot.

Excellent – you used present perfect continuous with a length of time and present perfect simple with a result!

 

Discussion

What have you been doing today?

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Comments

Submitted by Big Totos on Fri, 05/26/2023 - 23:15

I've been playing all the day plus i learned english.

Submitted by Sofia_bitvynovskaya on Tue, 01/10/2023 - 19:14

I've learned English and it was difficult

Submitted by Arturovilla on Thu, 11/24/2022 - 22:33

I have old ready taken the grammar ex

Submitted by rebbit2009 on Tue, 08/16/2022 - 07:54

Now it is morning so I didn't do much things, but I've already had a breakfast, read the book tnd I've also learned new English grammar

Submitted by strawberry123_ on Tue, 07/05/2022 - 07:23

It`s only morning now, so I hadn`t done a lot of things yet. But I`ve already hadd a breakfast, gone to bathroom, watched TV and started studying English

Submitted by v01shebnik on Sun, 02/20/2022 - 17:10

Dear students. Today i've cooked the cake. It's beautiful. I've walked with my lion and black panther. We played airsoft with them. Goodbye)

Submitted by student53 on Sun, 02/06/2022 - 07:38

Today I played pc and walked the dog

Submitted by Kati on Wed, 12/29/2021 - 18:05

Hi! I'm wondering whether the present perfect is always used for finished actions. If I say 'I have studied English since 2017' does it mean I don't study it anymore? thank you in advance!

Submitted by editor_rachael on Fri, 12/31/2021 - 15:34

Hi Kati,

 

We usually use the present perfect simple for finished actions and the present perfect continuous for unfinished actions that can continue. The present perfect simple usually focuses on the result and the present perfect continuous usually focuses on the action. For example:

 

I've made a cake. = It's finished, here is the cake.

I've been making a cake. = The cake may or may not be finished.

 

But with some verbs, like live, work and study, when we use them with for and since there is no real difference. For example:

 

I've studied French. = at some point in the past, but now I probably don't

I've been studying French. = recently, probably I'm still studying

I've studied French for ten years. OR I've been studying French for ten years. = I'm still studying now.

 

Hope that helps!

 

Rachael
LearnEnglish Teens team

In reply to by Kati

Submitted by Leticiadv1405 on Mon, 10/18/2021 - 23:47

The activity is very creative and helps us to facilitate the structure of the sentences. I think it is very good, it is not that complicated to perform and it is very useful to obtain new knowledge. 5°A, TLOG

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Submitted by Graceherrera on Mon, 10/18/2021 - 04:35

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Submitted by FerMG on Thu, 10/14/2021 - 18:40

I had a lot of fun with the juices they were my fun, and they were entertainig 5A TLOG

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It was quite an interesting topic, the games were fun, very interactive, I had a lot of fun 5 "A" T-LOG

Submitted by AnaMoreno on Wed, 10/13/2021 - 03:01

Today I have learned better the structure of the present perfect: simple and continuous. The grammar that I practiced with the exercises was easy for me. 5A-TPGA

Submitted by Juana_Valerio on Wed, 10/13/2021 - 02:22

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Submitted by FaniZuA on Tue, 10/12/2021 - 22:58

The activities aren't complicated and you learn a lot I've made homework this afternoon Estefania 5A PGA

Submitted by Alondra_Guevara on Tue, 10/12/2021 - 22:48

I found the present perfect games super fun since I understood them very well and they were easy. 5A-TLOG
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Submitted by angela_miranda on Tue, 10/12/2021 - 22:47

It was a super easy activity for me, I liked the development of this and how I am learning the subject little by little. Without more to say, great section of Present Perfect Simple

Submitted by GUADALUPESIXTOS on Tue, 10/12/2021 - 18:46

The activity was simple and easy to understand The subject became clearer and more complete with the exercise I did

Submitted by Mamou1 on Tue, 07/27/2021 - 10:30

Well it's 11:25 now so i did not do many thing yet just since 10 am I've been doing english exercice. of course I ate my breakfast. but later AT 12am precisely I'm going to read a book and later in the day do some sport with some freinds and wach movies .

Submitted by Jocelynfajardoolvera on Tue, 10/12/2021 - 22:59

work was easy, I learned many things with the activities I liked knowing about Present perfect 5A- TPGA

In reply to by Mamou1

Submitted by JamesMR on Tue, 06/01/2021 - 14:06

Please help. I read in my text book that we use the continuous when we emphasise the duration, but my book also uses ‘I had wanted to read the book for a while’ as an example of past perfect simple. Why is while used?

Submitted by DALIADEJESUS on Tue, 10/12/2021 - 21:50

With this lesson I have learned even more about the present perfect simple and continuous and I can now make sentences even more fluent.

In reply to by JoModerator

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Submitted by Cfvdv on Tue, 04/06/2021 - 16:08

Today I have been doing a walk around my house, for exercise. Then I came back home and now i´m doing my English.

Submitted by Didik on Thu, 04/01/2021 - 16:11

Today I walkd with my 2 brothers, then I played some games in my computer, and now I am doing english.

Submitted by Arivelde on Thu, 04/01/2021 - 00:43

Today I haven't done many things, I've just read a little bit, did some exercises with my brothers, and wached some Fottball games in the television, and for the past few minutes I've been doing some english.
Profile picture for user Kostantinus

Submitted by Kostantinus on Thu, 01/28/2021 - 11:25

Today I have been studying English and Front-end.
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Submitted by Andrii on Tue, 11/17/2020 - 18:15

Today, I have been watching videos, doing my homework and eating breakfast and lunch.
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Submitted by zagrybast on Fri, 08/07/2020 - 09:40

Dear Jonathan! Can you help me please? I don’t understand present perfect. I don’t know when I need use Simple and when continuous. I read the rules under video, but I can’t understand why “We have known|'ve known (know) (but “have been knowing”) each other for years.“ ?
Profile picture for user JoModerator

Submitted by JoModerator on Sat, 08/08/2020 - 07:27

Hi zagrybast,

Jonathon isn't here today, so I'm going to answer your question...

There is a group of verbs which are called state verbs which we use for states (not actions) and we don't usually use these in the continuous form.
 
want - need - like - love - hate - prefer - believe - think - know - realise - understand - recognise - suppose - be - exist - appear - look - seem - belong - have (for possession) -  own - feel - smell - taste
 
That's why we say 'we've known each other for years' and not 'we have been knowing each other for years'.
 
If you want to read more about the present perfect continuous, you could have a look at this page from Cambridge dictionary:
 
 
I hope that helps!
 
Best wishes
Jo (LearnEnglish Teens team)

In reply to by zagrybast

Submitted by NuChio on Wed, 05/06/2020 - 19:22

eat

Submitted by vittoriadigianno on Thu, 03/26/2020 - 12:49

Today i have been studying english and italian and watching many films

Submitted by caromoreira04 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 14:05

today I'm going to cook for my family and take out the dog.

Submitted by irebracco25 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 14:05

Today I have cooked with my mum and I have studied English.

Submitted by irebracco25 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 14:00

Today I have been cooking with my mum and I have been studying this lesson.

Submitted by gio_cra2004 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:54

I have been doing a science human video lessons and I have been cooking a crepes. It's very good!

Submitted by mart__ on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:48

Today I woke up, I had breakfast at 9:00 and at middley I did the video lessons and now I'm doing my homework

Submitted by Beavolga03 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:47

I have been studying latin and English and watching tv series.

Submitted by ftrifi227 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:47

I've been study a lot to recover the deficiencies.

Submitted by chiarusso on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 13:32

i have been doing online lessions and homework.

Submitted by alaricofranca02 on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 12:55

today I had a lesson with the professor of human sciences and then I had lunch.

Submitted by anna_v3r on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 12:08

Since this day hasn't finished yet, I'm going to talk about what I have been doing this morning. I've studied grammar and human sciences, then I've had lunch.

Submitted by mmatildepontoni04 on Mon, 03/23/2020 - 15:03

I have been studying this grammar lesson all this morning, I'm exhausted!!

Submitted by mmatildepontoni04 on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 18:48

I have been cooking all the day, I'm exhausted!!

Submitted by Rohan26 on Sun, 09/22/2019 - 16:48

i have learned present perfect: simple and continuous and i have gone to park in the morning today.
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