Quick Guide to Present Perfect Continuous

Whether you are preparing for a teaching certification and choosing from a plethora of Online TEFL Courses or looking for a quick refresher, here is your brief guide to Present Perfect Continuous.

Present Perfect Progressive, also known as Present Perfect Continuous, is a verb tense that usually refers to an action that started in the past and lasts until the present moment.


have/has + been + verb + ing

Here’s a more detailed explanation: We form Present Perfect Continuous with has (for the third-person singular) or have (all other persons). Then we add been (the past participle of be) and finish with the present participle (-ing form) of the main verb.


Present Perfect Continuous refers to an action that:

  • started in the past and is still ongoing

Claire has been travelling for the last two years (She is currently in Canada).

  • was just completed and has visible results or effects still relevant to the present

They have been jogging all morning and are too tired to go out.

  • expresses annoyance, irritation, anger, or criticism

Who has been using my hairbrush?

Present Perfect Continuous is used to express a continuing or unfinished action. It is worth paying attention to the fact that this tense emphasizes the process or duration of the action.  

How to form a negative statement

 Positivehave/has + been +V-ingNegativehave/has + not + been +V-ing
I/you/we/theyYou have been playing.You have not been playing.
he/she/itShe has been playing.She has not been playing.

 To form a negative statement, you need to add the adverb not between have/has and been. In informal situations, you can use contractions: have not — haven’t, has not — hasn’t.

How to form a question

 Yes-No questionhave/has + subject + been +V-ingWh-questionquestion word + have/has + subject + been +V-ing
I/you/we/theyHave you been playing?What have you been doing?
he/she/itHas she been playing?What has she been doing?

 A quick reminder: wh-questions usually start with a what, when, where, who, whom, which, whose, why, and how. Unlike yes-no questions, they ask for additional information.

Marker words

Among the signal words for  Present Perfect Continuous are all day, lately, the whole week, since (1993, etc.), and for (3 years, etc.).

  • for puts an emphasis on duration

She has been working as a zoologist for 20 years.

  • since indicates the starting point of the action

She has been repairing cars since she was fifteen years old.

Richard Maxwell

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