The present perfect continuous tense is used to talk about actions and situations that started in the past and are still going on. The time expressions since and for are common with this tense form.
- It has been raining since morning. (It started raining in the morning. It is still raining.)
- We have been living in this city since 1995. (We moved to this city in 1995. We are still living here.)
- The children have been playing for hours.
The present perfect continuous tense is also used to talk about situations that have just stopped and have present results.
- ‘You are sweating.’ ‘Yes, I have been running.’ (I am not running at the moment, but I stopped running only a couple of minutes ago. So I am still sweating.)
The present perfect continuous tense has the following structure:
Subject + has / have + been + ing form of the verb.
- I have been working for hours.
- Have I been working for hours?
- I have not been working for hours.
Note that the present perfect continuous tense cannot be used with time expressions referring to a finished period of time.
- ‘You look tired.’ ‘Yes, I have been jogging non-stop.’
- ‘You look tired.’ ‘Yes, I was jogging until 5 o’clock.’ (NOT I have been jogging until 5 o’clock.)
- Difference between present continuous and present perfect continuous tenses
The present continuous tense is used to talk about actions or situations that are going on at the moment of speaking.
- I am reading now.
- The mother is putting the child to bed.
- Dad is cooking pasta.
- Grandma is knitting a sweater.
All of these actions started in the past and are still continuing. However, we use the present continuous tense here because the focus is on continuity. There is no idea of duration.
We cannot use the present continuous tense in these sentences if there is a time expression indicating duration.
- I have been reading for two hours. (NOT I am reading for two hours.)
- The mother has been trying to put the child to bed for a while.
- Grandma has been knitting a sweater since afternoon.