Present perfect continuous vs Present perfect

Present Perfect Continuous

I / you / we / theyhe / she / it
+I’ve been using a new app.He’s been using a new app.
I haven’t been sleeping well.She hasn’t been sleeping well.
Y/N?Have they been living abroad? Yes, they have. / No, they haven’t.Has he been living abroad? Yes, he has. / No, he hasn’t.

Unfinished actions and states (duration)

We use the present perfect with state verbs:

  • We’ve owned this car for several years and it has never broken down.
  • She’s known him since they were children. They’re very good friends.

We use present perfect continuous with action verbs:

  • How long have you been waiting?
  • I’ve been working on my essay since 6 o’clock.
  • He’s been playing very well so far in this match.

Some verbs (e.g. work, live) can be used as action verbs or state verbs with no important change of meaning: How long have you worked here? / How long have you been working here?

Recent past actions with present results

We use the present perfect simple when completing an action has a result now:

  1. I’ve just finished my essay. (the result of finish writing = I can relax, I can hand in the work, etc.)
  2. The house looks lovely. Thanks! We’ve just painted it. (the result of finishing painting = the house looks nice)

We use the present perfect continuous when doing an activity has a result now:

  1. I’m tired because I’ve been writing an essay. (the result of writing = I’, tired).
  2. What’s that smell? We’ve been painting the living room. (the result of painting = the house smells of paint)

New habits and repeated actions

We use the present perfect continuous to describe repeated activities which started recently:

  1. I’ve been doing a lot of exercises lately. (In the past, I didn’t do much exercise)
  2. She’s been coming to the gym with me three times a week. (She has recently started coming)
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