the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous
relate a past action to the present, but the present perfect
simple suggests a completed action and focuses more on achievements
and results. Consider the following:
'I’ve completed my English and geography homework, but
I haven’t started my maths assignment yet.'
'She’s travelled to many countries, but she’s never
been outside Europe.'
'Have you ever tried Japanese food?' 'No, never.
What’s it like?'
Note that the present perfect is often used in conjunction with adverbs
such as: 'ever', 'never', 'already', 'just', ''still', 'yet':
'Do you want me to clean the kitchen this afternoon?' 'No thanks,
I’ve already done it.'
'I’ve just fed the baby but she seems to be hungry again.'
we use the present perfect continuous, however, there is
usually a suggestion that the activity is not yet completed, or
we wish to emphasise the length of time it has lasted or stress
the continuous, on-going nature of the activity. The present perfect
continuous is often used in conjunction with for or since
phrases. Consider the following:
'How long have you been waiting for this bus?'
'I’ve been standing here for over half an hour. These buses
'I’ve been looking for a summer holiday job for two
weeks now, but I still haven’t found one.'
'We’ve been living here in Brighton since 1988 – the
year we got married.'
perfect continuous vs present perfect simple
teaching or learning the present perfect, it is often useful to
present the two verb aspects in a contrastive way. Compare the following:
'Dick Francis has been writing novels since 1957. In
forty odd years, he has written over 30 best sellers.'
'I’ve read five chapters of this book this afternoon.
(And I think that’s quite an achievement).'
'I’ve been reading this book all afternoon. (And I still
haven’t finished it yet.)'
'Who’s eaten my chocolates? There are none left.'
'Who’s been eating my chocolates? There are only a few
perfect vs past verb forms
Whether teaching or learning the present perfect, it may also be useful
to compare it with past forms where the focus of attention is on a
point or period in the past.
'I first went to the States in 1995. That was where I met Peter.
So we’ve known each other for six years and we’ve been
married now for three years.'
'That man has been standing outside our house since early
morning. He arrived at eight o’ clock and hasn’t moved all
'When I woke up the sun was shining, but it’s been raining
steadily since eleven o’ clock and it’s now half past three.'
or teaching the form of the present perfect isn’t too complicated,
as long as you remember that it is constructed like this:
present perfect continuous: has ('s) / have ('ve) + been
perfect simple: has ('s) / have ('ve) + past participle
the contracted forms present the greatest difficulty, it will be
necessary to give as much practice as possible to: 'I’ve…' 'We’ve…'
'You’ve…' 'They’ve…' in contrast to: 'He’s…' 'She’s…' 'It’s...'