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Revision of the Present Perfect Simple:
Formed with the present tense of have + the past
participle: I have worked, he has worked etc.
Use: mixture of present and past. It always implies a
strong connection with the present and is mainly
used in conversations, letters, newspapers and TV
and radio reports.
Used for past actions whose time is not definite: I
have read the instructions but I don't understand
them. (time not given, so present perfect) but
I read the instructions last night. (time given, so
simple past)
This tense is formed by the present perfect of
the verb to be (have been) + the present
participle (the -ing form of the verb):
I have been working
We have been working
You have been working
you have been working
He/she/it has been working they have been
Negative: I have not/ haven't been working etc.
Interrogative: Have I been working? etc.
Negative interrogative: Have I not/ Haven't I
been working? etc.
This tense is used for an action which began in the
past and is still continuing:
I-------------------o-------------TS (time of speaking)
I have been waiting for an hour and he still hasn't
turned up.
Or has only just finished:
I'm so sorry I'm late. Have you been waiting long?
Comparison of the present
perfect simple and continuous
Ongoing activities
The present perfect continuous is used with for,
since, How long...? and other expressions of
duration (e.g. all day), to talk about activities
starting in the past and still happening now. The
activity may have been going on continuously or
repeated several times:
They have been producing cars here for ten years.
(They started producing cars ten years ago. They
are still producing cars)
I have been trying to ring them all day. (I started
trying to ring them this morning. I am still trying to
ring them)
However, we normally use the present perfect simple
with stative verbs (be, believe, know, hear, smell,
taste, like, etc) or for situations we consider
Ken has been in London since 9 o'clock this morning.
(not: *has been being...)
I have lived in London all my life. (not: *have been
Finished and unfinished activities
A repeated action in the simple present
perfect can sometimes be expressed as a
continuous action by the present perfect
I've written six letters since breakfast. (present
perfect simple)
I've been writing letters since breakfast.
(present perfect continuous)
The present perfect continuous expresses an
action which is apparently uninterrupted; we
do not use it when we mention the number of
times a thing has been done or the number of
things that have been done.In this case we
use the present perfect simple.
I have been knocking. I don't think anybody's
I have knocked five times. I don't think
anybody's in.
There is a difference between a single action
in the present perfect simple and an action in
the present perfect continuous:
I've polished the car. (the job is finished)
I've been polishing the car (this is how I've
spent the last hour'. It does not necessarily
mean that the job is completed.)
A single action in the present perfect
continuous continues up to the time of
speaking, or nearly up to this time:
He's been taking photos. (he's probably still
carrying his camera) but
He has taken photos. (this action may or may
not be very recent)
In the negative, the present perfect simple
focuses on the amount of time that has
passes since something happened. The
present perfect continuous focuses on the
verb itself:
I haven't had a holiday for two years. (The last
time was two years ago)
I haven't been feeling well recently. (this has
been continuing for days)
Recently finished activities
We can use the present perfect continuous to
talk about an activity that has just finished.
Often there is something you can see that
shows the activity has just finished.
Look – the ground is wet. It has been raining.
Fill in the correct form (present perfect
simple or continuous):
1. I (practice) _____________the piano for 30
2. Bob (run) ____________________ 10 km.
3. The children (be) ____________on holiday for
six days.
4. The dog (bark) _________ since midnight.
5. We (miss) ___________ the bus twice this
Fill in the correct form (present perfect
simple or continuous):
1. How long (wait/you)____________ for us?
2. How many times (tell/I)_________ you?
3. How often (clean/you) ___________ the
windows this year?
4. How many months (take/you)__________
piano lessons?
5. (Stay/you/ever) ______________ in a castle?
Fill in the correct form:
1. Tom: Hi Ana. I (try)____ to ring you several
timestoday. Where(you/be)_________?
2. Ana: I (be) ______ at home all the time. But I
(clean)_______ the house all day, so maybe I
didn't hear the phone ring.
3. Tom:(you/clean)_______ everything now?
4. Ana: No, not yet. I (tidy/not) ______ up the
kitchen yet. But why are you here?
5. Tom: Don't you remember? Jane
(invite)______ us to her birthday party and we
buy/not_____ a present for her yet.
6. Ana: Oh, that's right. (you/find
out/already)_______ what she wants?
7. Tom: Well, she (learn)________ Spanish for a
year and wants to spend her next holiday in
Mexico. Maybe we could get her a guide
8. Ana: That's a good idea. There's a good
bookshop in the big shopping centre. I
(see)______ some nice books about Mexico
there recently.