<< Back to Index

The Present Perfect Progressive Tense

Useful Tip

Time Expressions in the Present Perfect Progressive (Continuous)

  • Use since or ever since with a specific month, year or a period in the past > I have been jogging in this park since 2002 / He has been staring at the wall ever since he heard the news.
  • Use for with a number of hours, days, months, years > She’s been talking on the phone for 3 hours.

The present perfect progressive (continuous) is actually easier to understand than the present perfect simple tense. It is used to describe an event that started in the past but is still happening in the present. That event in the present can be

An habitual event:

  1. I have been living in this house for 40 years.
    (I started living in it 40 years ago and I am still living in it today.)

Something that is taking place at this moment:

  1. I have been climbing up this mountain for over two hours.
    (I started climbing up it two hours ago and at this moment I’m still climbing.)

To form the present perfect progressive (continuous), has or have + been + verbing (present participle).

Subject have/has + been + verbing rest of sentence
I / You / We / They have been sitting here for two hours
He / She / It has been working at this company since April

Present Perfect Simple or Present Perfect Progressive (Continuous) – Which to use?

In general, use the present perfect simple when the action started in the past and is relevant to the present. Ex. This is the third time I’ve written to you. (I wrote twice in the past and now I am writing again – in the present.)

If it’s an action that started in the past and that same action is still happening now, use the present perfect progressive. Ex I have been waiting for you since 10 am.

Some actions can be expressed in either tense, especially those that started in the past and still occur in the present on a habitual basis. Ex. I have lived in this house for 20 years. / I have been living in this house for 20 years. Both sentences are correct.

Contractions in the Present Perfect Progressive (Continuous)

In general, we contract the subject (the person or thing doing the action) and form of have:

  1. I have > I’veI’ve been thinking about you since you called.
  2. He has > He’s / She has > She’s / It has > It’sHe’s been singing for two hours.
  3. We have > We’ve / You have > You’ve / They are > They’veWe’ve been helping her out for a few months.

You may have noticed that the 3rd person singular (he, she, it) contractions look like those in the present progressive. You can tell them apart by the use of been and from the context of the sentence: he is > He’s eating now. / he has > He’s been eating for two hours.

Negative Sentences in the Present Perfect Progressive (Continuous)

Spelling Tip

When shortening the 3rd person (he, she, it) negative, just remove the o in not and add an apostrophe (‘)
has not > hasn’t

When creating negative sentences, we use hasn’t or haven’t together with been and the ing (present participle) form of the verb. Save the long forms (has not, and have not) for when you want to create emphasis. When speaking, put the stress on ‘not’.

Subject Auxillery Verb Been + Verbing Rest of Sentence
I / You / We / They haven’t (have not) been lying to you
He / She / It hasn’t (has not) been sleeping weill since the accident
  1. I haven’t been feeling well lately.
  2. Simon hasn’t been attending class regularly since he got a job.
  3. The sales team hasn’t been performing at the top of their game.
  4. He has not been paying attention!

Yes/No Questions in the Present Perfect Progressive (Continuous)

To create a question that will be answered with a yes or no, start the question with Have or Has, (Haven’t or Hasn’t for a negative question) then add a subject (the person or thing that has been doing the action) followed by been and the ing (present participle) form of the verb and only then add the rest of the sentence.

Auxiliary Verb Subject Been + Verbing Rest of Sentence
Have I / you / we / they been working since this morning
Has he / she / it been earning minimum wage
Hasn’t he / she / it been helping you clean the house
  1. Have you been keeping track of sales?
  2. Has Jerry been picking fruit from my trees again?

Wh-Questions in the Present Perfect Progressive (Continuous)

Wh- questions are questions that require more information in their answers. Typical wh- words are what, where, when, why, which, who, how, how many, how much.

To create a wh-question, start with the wh-word, then add have or has, then the subject (a person or thing that has been doing the action), followed by been and the ing (present participle) form of the verb, and only then add the rest of the sentence.

Wh-Word Auxiliary Verb Subject Been + Verbing Rest of Sentence
What have I / you / we / they been doing lately
Why has he / she / it been copying documents all day
  1. What have you been doing since I left?
  2. Why has the phone been ringing for the last two hours?
  3. How long has he been waiting?

Exercises – Present Perfect Progressive (Continuous)

Fill in the correct for of the Present Perfect Progressive as in the examples.

  1. I‘ve been gardening for three hours. (garden) My back is killing me!
  2. Tony has been listening to the news non-stop since the conflict began. (listen)
  3. Have you been saving the coupons for me? (save)
  1. Roger ______ at his mother’s house since his divorce. (stay)
  2. How long _____ the dogs ________ like that? (bark)
  3. I _______ the football score. (not follow) Are we winning?
  4. The students ______ plans for the school party for several weeks. (make)
  5. Rachel ________ at that studio for very long. (not dance)
  6. _________ Tim _______ that book since January? (not read) I’m waiting to borrow it.
  7. The project manager ________ us to finish the work since Tuesday. (push)
  8. ________ you ________ TV all morning? (watch)
  9. I_________ to Paris twice a month since the project started. (travel)
  10. Jenny ________ customer deadlines since she arrived here. (not meet.) The boss may fire her.

Answers:

  1. has been staying
  2. have/been barking
  3. haven’t been following
  4. have been making
  5. hasn’t been dancing
  6. Hasn’t/been reading
  7. has been pushing
  8. Have/been watching
  9. I’ve been traveling
  10. has not been meeting

Examples – Present Perfect Progressive (Continuous)

Positive

  1. I have been living in this house for 40 years. (I started living in it 40 years ago and I am still living in it today.
  2. I have been climbing up this mountain for over two hours. (I started climbing up it two hours ago and at this moment I’m still climbing.)
  3. I have been waiting for you since 10 am.
  4. I’ve been thinking about you since you called.
  5. He’s been singing for two hours.
  6. We’ve been helping her out for a few months.
  7. I’ve been gardening for three hours. My back is killing me!
  8. Tony has been listening to the news ever since the conflict began.

Negative

  1. I haven’t been feeling well lately.
  2. Simon hasn’t been attending class regularly since he got a job.
  3. The sales team hasn’t been performing at the top of their game.
  4. He has not been paying attention!

Yes/No Questions

  1. Have you been keeping track of sales?
  2. Has Jerry been picking fruit from my trees again?
  3. Have you been saving the coupons for me?

Wh Questions

  1. What have you been doing since I left?
  2. How long has he been waiting?
  3. Why has the phone been ringing for the last two hours?