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Verbs - Present Perfect Progressive Tense - 2

Verbs - Present Perfect Progressive Tense - 2

 

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Present perfect Progressive – 2

 


Hello! In this lesson, we will continue learning 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.

Now that we know how to form the present perfect progressive tense and we know what it means, let us listen to a dialog in which it is used.

Jennifer:  David, have you been smoking?

David:  Why do you think I've been smoking?

Jennifer:  I can smell smoke on your clothes.

David:  I haven't been smoking. I've been cooking.

Jennifer:  Cooking? What have you been cooking?

David:  Mr. Smith and I have been grilling hamburgers outside.

Jennifer:  Where are they?

David: Where are who?

Jennifer:  Not who, what – where are the hamburgers you've been grilling?

David:  We've been grilling – and eating. We ate them all up!

Jennifer starts this conversation with a question which could be construed as an accusation. "David, have you been smoking?".  Since the present perfect progressive refers to actions that began in the past and continue into the present, this question implies that Jennifer can see or smell something that makes her believe David has been smoking. Something persists into the present that reminds her of smoking. There is no other way to smoothly imply an accusation the way this question can do so.

David is hurt by the implied accusation. He asks "Why do you think I've been smoking?".He uses the contraction "I've" which means "I have". He could have asked "Why do you think I have been smoking?".

David knows that Jennifer is implying that there is some persisting evidence that makes her ask this question in the present perfect progressive. So in his question, he is asking her to produce the evidence.

Jennifer answers " I can smell smoke on your clothes.". This is Jennifer's evidence that justified her initial question of David. She could also have said "There is the smell of smoke on your clothes." or "You smell like smoke." or "Your clothes smell like smoke.".

David explains "I haven't been smoking. I've been cooking.".This is the negative form of the present perfect progressive tense. He could have said "I have not been smoking.". He further explains' "I've been cooking.". He could have used the longer form, "I have been cooking.".

Jennifer is surprised by David's response. "Cooking?" she asks. She could have mirrored his entire response back to him by saying "You have been cooking?" or "You've been cooking?". Then she asks "What have you been cooking?". She could have used the contraction "what've" and could have said "What've you been cooking?".

David answers "Mr. Smith and I have been grilling hamburgers outside.". He might have said "I've been grilling hamburgers outside with Mr. Smith.". But he probably would not have used the contraction "-'ve" since he used the subject "Mr. Smith and I". We usually use the non-contracted form "have" instead of "-'ve" when we use a subject that consists of more than one word, like "David and I" or "Mr. Smith and I".

Jennifer is surprised again. "Where are they?" she asks. As we learned in a previous lesson, the pronoun "they" can refer to persons, places, things, or ideas. So when she asks "Where are they?" her question could be unclear. She thinks it is clear that she is referring to the hamburgers. If she wanted to be more precise, she would have asked "Where are the hamburgers?".

David takes advantage f the linguistic loophole created by Jennifer's ambiguous question. "Where are who?" he asks. Instead of assuming Jennifer meant the pronoun "they" to refer to things, such as the hamburgers, he assumes that she used the pronoun "they" to refer to people, or "who?".

Jennifer corrects David's assumption. "Not who – what – Where are the hamburgers you've been grilling?" By saying "Not who – what –" she means to say: Not people who can be referred to with the question word who, but rather things which can be referred to with the question word what. She then asks directly "Where are the hamburgers you've been grilling." In this sentence, the pronoun "you" can mean either a singular "you, David", or it could mean the plural "you, Mr. Smith and David." Jennifer wants to know where the purported hamburgers are.

David responds"We've been grilling – and eating.". This sentence means that beginning some time in the past and continuing up to the present time, Mr. Smith and he had been grilling and eating. It means that the activity of eating extended into the present, so we can imagine he has just finished grilling and eating. Then he says "We ate them all up!".

The fact that David uses the simple past tense means that the process of eating is completely finished. What he implies with his sentence is that the hamburgers are completely gone now. The idiom "to eat up" means to completely devour something so that there is none left over.

So when David says "We ate them all up.", he means that he and Mr. Smith completely devoured the hamburgers and that there were no hamburgers left.
Now that we have listened and learned how to use the present perfect progressive, let us listen to the dialog again. Listen for the present perfect progressive tense.

Jennifer:  David, have you been smoking?

David:  Why do you think I've been smoking?

Jennifer:  I can smell smoke on your clothes.

David:  I haven't been smoking. I've been cooking.

Jennifer:  Cooking? What have you been cooking?

David:  Mr. Smith and I have been grilling hamburgers outside.

Jennifer:  Where are they?

David: Where are who?

Jennifer:  Not who, what – where are the hamburgers you've been grilling?

David:  We've been grilling – and eating. We ate them all up!

Wonderful work! The present perfect progressive tense is a useful and interesting tense to master.  Use the present perfect progressive starting now and extending into the future! "You have been learning a lot of English!"