1. Introduction to Present Perfect Continuous
We use the Present Perfect Continuous for an action (waiting). The action happens over a period of time (for twenty minutes). Here the period lasts up to the present – They are still waiting now.
2. Structure of Present Perfect Continuous
- Positive: Subject + have/has been + Verb-ing
- Negative: Subject + have/has not been + Verb-ing
- Question: Have/Has + Subject + Verb-ing
I/you/we/they have been waiting here.
He/she/it has been waiting here.
I/you/we/they haven’t been waiting here.
He/she/it hasn’t been waiting here.
Have I/you/we/they been waiting here?
Has he/she/it been waiting here:
- We‘ve been waiting for ages.
- It has been raining all day.
- Our team hasn’t been doing very well lately.
- Have you been looking for the book long?
We use the Present Continuous Tense for an action over a period of time leading up to the present (see the example in the picture). In these examples the action is still going on.
- We‘ve been waiting here for twenty minutes. (We are waiting now)
- Listen. That burglar alarm has been ringing since eight o’clock this morning.
We must use the Perfect in these situations.
- We wait here for twenty minutes. (Wrong)
- We have waited here for twenty minutes. (Right)
- We are waiting here for twenty minutes. (Wrong)
- We have been waiting here for twenty minutes. (Right)
We can use the Present Perfect Continuous to talk about repeated actions up to now.
- Natasha has been playing the piano since she was four.
We can also use it to talk about an action which ends just before the present.
- I‘ve been swimming. That’s why my hair is wet.
The Present Perfect Continuous can sometimes be interchanged with the present perfect tense with little or no deviation in meaning.
- Esther has worked there for nine years.
- Esther has been working there for nine years.
However, in cases where the present perfect tense carries the meaning “before now” (non-specific time in the past), the present perfect progressive cannot be used.
- I have been seeing that movie five times already. (Incorrect!)
- I have seen that movie five times already. (Correct)
4. For, since, how long and recently
We can use the Present Perfect Continuous with for and since
- My sister has been staying with me for three weeks now.
- You’ve been playing on that computer since seven o’clock.
We use how long in questions.
- How long have you been sitting there?
Note also recently and lately. These both mean “in the last few days or weeks“.
- I haven’t been feeling very well recently.
- What have you been doing lately?