Unit 2: Hidden talents
Present perfect continuous
Select a unit
- 1 Pop-ups
- 2 Hidden talents
- 3 Can't buy me love
- 4 Travellers' tales
- 5 The colleague from hell
- 6 Jurassic mystery: unpacking the past
- 7 Career changes
- 8 Art
- 9 Project management
- 10 The dog ate my homework!
- 11 The diary of a double agent
- 12 Fashion forward
- 13 Flat pack skyscrapers
- 14 Extreme sports
- 15 Food fads
- 16 Me, my selfie and I
- 17 Endangered animals
- 18 A nip and a tuck: cosmetic surgery
- 19 I'm really sorry...
- 20 Telling stories
- 21 Fakes and phrasals
- 22 Looking to the future
- 23 Becoming familiar with things
- 24 From rags to riches
- 25 Against the odds
- 26 Our future on Mars?
- 27 Where is it illegal to get a fish drunk?
- 28 Dodgy dating
- 29 Annoying advice
- 30 I'll have been studying English for thirty weeks
Which tense is this: How long have you been learning English? It's the present perfect continuous - and that's what we're looking at in this session.
I've been painting...
Neil and Catherine talk about the present perfect continuous. Find out which one to use when, listen out for lots of examples and see if you can score top marks in our quiz.
Listen to the audio and complete the activity
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Neil.
And me, Catherine.
Today we're talking about the present perfect continuous tense.
We’ll remind you when to use it and how to form it…
We’ll also look at using it with the words just and already and other adverbs.
And we’ll finish with a quiz. So let’s kick things off with an example of the present perfect continuous, read for us by Finn.
I’ve been reading that book you lent me last weekend… it’s great!
Thank you Finn. So I’ve been reading… is an action that started in the past and is continuing in the present: Finn is still reading that book. Here’s another example:
It’s been raining since 9 o’clock this morning.
It has! It started raining in the morning, continued raining and it’s still raining now.
We can also use the present perfect continuous for actions that have recently finished. An example, please Finn.
I’ve got paint all over my clothes because I’ve been decorating the living room.
Ah, so Finn's got paint all over his clothes, and that's the evidence he was painting but now he's finished. Another example please, Finn:
Joe! Where have you been? I’ve been trying to get hold of you… I’ve got some bad news.
So, Finn has finally managed to find Joe. The action of looking for Joe has finished but Finn was looking right up until the moment he found him.
To say how long an action has been happening for, we can add a time expression.
Jack has got a big concert tomorrow. He’s been rehearsing all day.
We’ve been going to the same hotel for the last ten years.
Earlier, Finn said: it has been raining since 9 o’clock this morning.
For three hours, for the last ten years and since 9 o’clock this morning tell us how long the activity has been happening.
The present perfect continuous is often used with the words already and just.
That's right, we can use already if an action hasn’t finished, and we want to emphasise how long it’s been happening. Finn:
She’s already been sleeping for three hours.
This chicken has already been cooking for two hours.
We use just when the action has already finished - and we want to emphasise how recently it finished.
There’s Yasemin – I’ve just been talking to her husband on the phone!
We can also use recently or lately to say that a situation or action finished only a short while ago, but they are a little further back in time than just. So, Neil, have you been doing anything special recently…
Well, I’ve been trying to lose a bit of weight recently, so I’ve been going to the gym after work.
It's starting to show a little bit.
Yes. How about you, Catherine…?
Well, I’m afraid I haven't been going to the gym because I’ve been feeling rather tired lately and I haven’t been sleeping very well.
You’ve been working too hard! Now, we form the present perfect continuous with the subject plus have or has and the present participle of the main verb. Here are some examples:
Jack has been working hard.
It’s been raining …
I’ve been reading that book …
And for negatives, it’s subject plus haven’t or hasn’t and the present participle.
I haven’t been sleeping very well.
We usually put just and already between have or has and the past participle. So it’s She’s already been sleeping for three hours.
…and I’ve just been talking to her husband ….
But time expressions usually go after the main verb. So it’s Jack’s been studying all day.
And don’t forget to use short forms like I’ve… It’s… haven’t… hasn’t with the present perfect continuous.
6 Minute Grammar from the BBC.
And we're talking about the present perfect continuous.
We use it to talk about an activity that started in the past and is continuing now or has recently finished.
And we often use it with the adverbs just and already, and with other time expressions like recently and lately.
Time for our quiz. Number one. Which is correct? The chicken only needs another fifteen minutes. It's a) …already been cooking for two hours, or b) It’s just been cooking for two hours.
And that's a) because the chicken is still cooking.
That's correct. Number 2. a) Where have you been? I wait for you for half an hour. b) Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you for half an hour.
It’s b) because you use the present perfect continuous to say how long you have been doing an action.
Finally, number 3. a) You’ve been listening just to 6 minute grammar. b) You’ve just been listening to 6 minute grammar.
It’s b) because just goes between the auxiliary have and been.
Correct and it’s the end of the show. There's lots more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar soon.
End of Session 3
That's the end of this session. We hope you enjoyed practising the present perfect continuous. In the next session it's time for a singing contest!
Present perfect continuous tense
Meaning and use
To talk about an activity that started in the past and is continuing now or has recently finished.
- I’ve been reading that new book you lent me…
Form - positive and negative
subject + have/has/haven’t/hasn’t + been + present participle of main verb
- He’s been revising all day
- I haven’t been drinking coffee recently
Form - question
- Have you been eating biscuits?