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Verbs - Present Perfect Progressive Tense - 1

Verbs - Present Perfect Progressive Tense - 1


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Present Perfect Progressive


Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to use the present perfect progressive tense. In a previous lesson we learned how to form and use the present perfect tense.

The present perfect is formed with the conjugated form of the verb "to have" and a participle. Similarly, the present perfect progressive tense is formed with the conjugated form of the verb "to have", the past participle of "to be", and the progressive, or "-ing" form of a verb.  

Similar to the present perfect tense, the present perfect progressive tense covers a span of time stretching from now backwards into the past. It is use for ongoing action that began in the past and continues into the present moment.

Let us look at some examples of the use of the present perfect progressive tense so that we can better understand how it is used.

"David and Jennifer have been living on their apartment for 3 years.". This sentence says that David and Jennifer started living in their apartment 3 years ago, and they still live there. The action of living in their apartment has been ongoing for three years. We use the preposition "for" to express the length of time that some action has been persisting.

"I have been cooking all day.". This sentence means that the speaker is cooking now, and that this activity has been going on all day. In this case we do not use a preposition to express the amount of time that something has been going on. Other similar expressions would be "all morning", "all afternoon, "all evening", "all week", and "all year".

"The Smiths have been traveling since June.". This sentence means that the Smiths started traveling in June and the activity of traveling has been going on ever since then. We use the word "since" to express the time when the activity started and to indicate that the activity has persisted in the interim and continues into the present.

We also use the present perfect progressive tense with the adverbs "recently" or "lately". For example,

"I have been feeling tired lately.". This sentence says that starting in the recent past and continuing now, the speaker has been feeling tired.

"I have been shopping at John's Supermarket recently.". This sentence means that beginning recently, the speaker started shopping regularly at John's Supermarket.

Since the present perfect progressive continues into the present, it is possible to insult someone by using it to discuss their appearance or some sensory information about him or her. For example, if you ask a person "Have you been smoking?", the implication is that you can smell smoke on the person, since the effects started in the past and continue into the present.  "Have you been drinking?" would mean that you perceive that the person is drunk, since the effects of the drink, usually implied to be alcohol with this question started some time in the past, but persist into the present. Here are some other insulting questions that you should carefully consider before you ask – and if you receive such a question, that you understand what the implication might be.

"Have you been using a new perfume?". The implication is that the speaker can smell the lingering fragrance of the perfume. It can be either insulting over complimentary, depending on the way it is asked.

"Have you been feeling okay?". The implication could be that you think the person looks sick or unwell in some way. While this question could also be seen as a caring consideration of the person's health, bear in mind that it carries an implication with it.

Even a sentence as innocent as "Have you been living here for a long time?" could be perceived to carry an implication such as: (translate: It is hard to imagine that anyone would want to live in this dwelling for a very long time.)
Or a seemingly complimentary question-- in a country where thinness is perceived as being beautiful -- such as "Have you been losing weight?" could be perceived to mean that the person needs to lose weight, was very fat previously, or something unintended like (translate: your clothing does not fit you properly.)

We can also make questions about the amount of time something has persisted. Look at the following questions to get an idea of how to form these questions.

"How long have they been building this school" or "For how long have they been building this school?".  This question asks for the amount of time some group of workers has been building this school. Possible answers could be "They have been building it since August." or "They have been building it for three months." or "They have been building it all month.".

Since when have they been building this school?". The question "since when" sometimes carries an accusation of some sort. The implication in this question could be something like (Translate: they are using my tax money to build this school, but nobody publicized the beginning of the construction.)  "Since when have you been going to college?". This question carries the implication that the speaker doubts your ability to go to college or is surprised that you are going to college. Of course, this usage can also be used in a joking way, or in a completely innocent way which means no ill-intent at all. But it is important for us to have as much information as possible when it comes to discerning the meaning of utterances.  It is best not to use "since when" in your utterances until you get a feel for how others use it, and it is equally important to perk up your ears when you hear it used, because it could – only COULD – carry an implication with it.

When we use the present perfect progressive with a negative, the meaning is that the negative situation has persisted since a time in the past and continuing into the present.

For example, we can say "I haven't seen you for two years!" This sentence means that the last time you saw that person was two years ago, and at no time in the interim. The same idea could be expressed with "I haven't seen you since two years ago!".  This sentence puts more emphasis on the exact time of the last time you saw the person. And similarly to its affirmative uses, we can say "I haven't seen you all day!" or "I haven't listened to the news all week." or "I haven't traveled all year.".

Now that we know how to form the present perfect progressive, we will go to the next lesson to hear a dialog in which it is used.