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PRESENT PERFECT OR PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS?

SOMETIMES EITHER ONE IS O.K.

With some verbs, such as live, know, teach, stay, work, study, and wear, you can often use either
present perfect or present perfect continuous with very little difference in meaning. However, the
continuous form is often more common.
Shes been working here for two years.
How long have you been teaching English?
Weve been studying Russian since high school.

or Shes worked here for two years.


or How long have you taught English?
or Weve studied Russian since high school.

This is also true with some verbs of sensation, such as feel, hurt, itch, and ache:
or Ive felt a bit under the weather lately.
Ive been feeling a bit under the weather lately.
My toe has been hurting since I stepped on that nail. or My toe has hurt since I stepped on that nail.
IMPORTANT: With verbs like live, know, teach, stay, work, etc., present perfect without an explicit

time period (since, for, lately, how long, etc.) expresses a completed event, not a continuing one.
Present perfect with an explicit time period (since, for, lately, how long, etc.) expresses present continuous
meaning.
Shes worked here. (A completed event. She doesnt work here anymore.)
vs.
Shes worked here since February.

(She still works here. Same: Shes been working here.)

Hes lived in Montreal. (A completed event. He doesnt live there anymore.)


vs.
Hes lived

in Montreal for three years. (He still lives there. Same: Hes been living in Montreal.)

REMINDER:

When you can say or ask how many times something has happened, you normally use present perfect, not
present perfect continuous:
Right:
Ive seen that movie twice. (before, in my whole life)
Weve never eaten there. (never = not ever, not one time)
How many times has he forgotten to lock the door?

Wrong:
Ive been seeing that movie twice.
Weve never been eating there.
How many times has he been forgetting
to lock the door?

Similarly, if you can add yet (or still) to a sentence, you should use present perfect, not present perfect
continuous. Yet only refers to a completed action.
Right:
Wrong:
Has he opened it (yet)?
Has he been opening it yet?
Have you been wearing your new dress yet?
Have you worn your new dress (yet)?
a. Did they accept our offer?
b. I dont know. They still havent called us.
(=They havent called us yet.)

They still havent been calling us.

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Read the entire conversation. Circle one answer: a, b, or c.


Mark: What video do you want to rent?
Bob: Well, how about this one?
Mark: E.T.? No, I dont think so.
a. Ive already seen it twice.
b. Ive already been seeing it twice.
c. (Either a or b above is O.K.)
Bob: Twice? Well, then wed better choose something else. What do you feel like watching?
John: a. Have you sent in the credit card payment yet?
b. Have you been sending in the credit card payment yet?
c. (Either a or b above is O.K.)
Sue: Why?
John: I think I forgot to sign the check.
Ann: a. How long have you been living here?
b. How long have you lived here?
c. (Either a or b is O.K.)
Greg: For two years. What about you?
Ann: Five years. Before this, I lived in Seattle.
Joe: a. How long have you been wearing contacts?
b. How long have you worn contacts?
c. (Either one is O.K.)
Bob: Ever since I was a teenager.
Andy: Whereve you been?
John: a. Ive been sleeping.
b. Ive slept.
c. (Either a or b is O.K.)
Andy: Arent you feeling well?
John: I dont know. I think I might be getting the flu or something.
Andy: Well, then why dont you go back to bed? We can do this later.
Linda: a. Have you worn your new outfit yet?
b. Have you been wearing your new outfit yet?
c. (Either a or b is acceptable.)
Julie: No, Im still trying to find a pair of shoes that will go with* it. * to look good with, to complement
Joe: a. How long has she been studying English here?
b. How long has she studied English here?
c. (Either of the above.)
Ann: Her? At least ten years. Shes a fixture around here*. *She has been coming here for a long time, and
Ron: a. Have you gotten your paycheck yet?
people associate her with the place.
b. Have you been getting your paycheck yet?
c. Either a or b is all right.
Mary: No, why?
Ron: Theres a deduction for health insurance. Doesnt the company usually pay for that?
Dale: a. How many times have you missed the bus this week?
b. How many times have you been missing the bus this week?
c. (Either a or b is correct.)
Ray: Twice. I swear, as soon as that bus driver sees me coming, he closes the
door and leaves!

Exercise 2.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

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Exercise 3.

Which sentence, a or b, goes with each item? Pay attention to the tense of each sentence.

1. In the last five years, they have built a new freeway and (theyve) widened many streets.
a. Now we can get to work much faster.
b. When they finish, our commute (=trip to work) will be faster.
2. Over the last two years, they have been putting up (=building) a new convention* center.
a. It is already open and doing business.
*
, congreso/asamblea
b. Upon completion (=when its completed), the city will be able to host* large conventions.

3. Ive read that book.


a. My friend Mary wants me to lend it to her when Im finished with it.
b. I loved it, especially the ending.

, ser anfitrin de

4. Ive been teaching a listening class.


a. Every day, I record something from the T.V. and use it in class the next day.
b. I taught it two semesters ago.
5. Oh, youve repainted the room!
a. Yes. Its taking a long time. Say, we could use some help if youre not busy.
b. Yeah. It took us all day! I think the paint should be dry by now.
6. Ive been watching this program on T.V. called Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
a. I watched it last night.
b. Let me call you back. I want to see if the contestant* who is playing answers his question.

concursante, contrincante, contendiente

7. Ive been writing a term paper on the French Revolution*. *


a. Its due* next Friday. *
El plazo vence viernes.
b. I turned it in (=gave it to the instructor) yesterday.

8. She has been visiting her grandmother.


a. She plans to leave tomorrow morning.
b. Once last May and once at Christmas.
Exercise 3 (Error Correction).
Exercise 4 (Verb Tense Test).

Instructor, see handouts in the Teachers Appendix.


Instructor, see the Teachers Appendix.

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