Present Perfect Simple and Continuous

Present Perfect Simple

Form: Subject + have/has + past participle
We use the Present Perfect Simple Tense for life experience, unfinished states, to focus on the result of an activity, for recent “one-time” actions to name a few.  Here is a breakdown of each of the uses we have just mentioned. (<– We’ve already got our first example).
1. Unfinished States
ex:  I have been a teacher for 12 years. (In this sentence, the verb “to be” is a state, so we cannot use it in a continuous tense.
ex:  I have had this car for a few months. (“Have” is another state verb – for possession so we couldn’t say, I have been having this car for a few months.)
2. To focus on the Result of an Activity. (This will help us to answer the question “How much/many?”)
Here is an example of how a conversation about this might go:
A: What are you doing?
B: I am reading.
A: How many pages have you read today?
B: I have read 60 pages so far today.  (Although “read” is an action, we are not focussed on the activity – reading, but the result of the activity – How many pages…)
ex: She has run 42 kilometres today. (“Run” is an action, but we want to know how many kilometres she has run, not what she is doing.)
3. To describe Recently completed “One-Time Actions”
A: What’s happened?
B: I
have cut my finger. (The action “cut” is finished, but we can still see the cut/it has happened very recently.
A: Ouch! Let me get you a plaster.
4. Life ExperienceWe use the present perfect simple to talk about certain experiences that we have had in our life.
ex: I have been to Tokyo.
ex: I have never tried Sichuan hot pot.
ex: Have you ever been to the Singapore Zoo?
There you have it, 4 reasons why English speakers use the Present Perfect Simple.  Now let’s move onto:

Present Perfect Continuous

Form: Subject + have/has + been + verb-ing
We use the Present Perfect Continuous for life experience, unfinished actions, to focus on the an activity, and for recent “repeated” actions to name a few.
1. Unfinished Actions
ex:  I have been teaching for 12 years. (In this sentence, the verb “teach” is an action, so we should use the continuous tense here.)
ex:  I have been working in Singapore since 2006.  (“work” is another action verb)
2. To Focus on the Activity (Not the Result)
ex: I have been reading for an hour. (Here, “How long” is more important than “How many”)
ex: She has been running for 4 hours.  (The activity “running” is the focus, and not how many kilometres.)
3. To describe Recently Completed “Repeated Actions”
ex: She has been cutting onions and now she is crying
ex: He is a doorman.  He has been opening and closing the door all day!
Well, there you go – 3 reasons why we use the Present Perfect Continuous.  
Here’s a simple look at it:
If that explanation isn’t enough, you can have a look at Mark and Matt teaching it on this week’s Facebook Live Video!  Yes, we are wearing identical shirts…

As always, thanks for watching!  If you have any questions, head to the comment section to ask or go over to Facebook and comment on the video directly!
Happy Studying!
Matthew Fast

Matthew is the Owner and Academic Director at ULC. He has been teaching English for 12 years and loves breaking down grammar in its simplest form. He also thinks that students should focus on improving their fluency first, and then their accuracy! "Think in English"

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