Hi, I'm Rebecca, and welcome to this class on the present perfect continuous tense, which
is also called the present perfect progressive tense. It's one tense, it just has two names,
that's all right. So, this class is part of a series created by www.engvid.com to help
you learn and start using the different English verb tenses, step by step, okay?
Now, the present perfect continuous is an advanced tense, and the fact that you're watching
this video tells me that you are already at a high level of English. So, that's a great
thing! Feel good about it, okay? It's excellent to have reached that stage. What I will do
in this class is to explain to you exactly what this tense is, when we use it, how we
use it, so that you can start to speak and write more comfortably and confidently using
this tense, okay? And I think you'll find it really useful. So, are you ready? Let's
So, the present perfect continuous tense is a special tense in terms of time. Why? Because
it connects or links both the present and the past. It doesn't talk only about the present
or only about the past, it connects them. Let's see how.
So, it talks about an action that started in the past and it's still continuing now,
okay? Something that started in the past and it's still going on now. Alright? So, let's
look at an example to understand exactly how it works. So, I've written two sentences on
the board. They are from two different tenses, but let's look at them and see how they're
So, the first sentence: I have cooked dinner. The second sentence: I have been cooking dinner.
So, what's the difference between these two sentences? Is there a difference? Not just
in the words, but I mean in the meaning. Is there a difference in the meaning? In English
grammar, there is a difference, okay? Because if I say, "I have cooked dinner", it means
I cooked it in the past and now, it's ready. Okay? I don't have to cook anymore. I'm finished.
And when I say, "I have cooked dinner", I'm only interested in the result, which is that
I don't need to cook anymore, I'm done. But, if I say, "I have been cooking dinner", that
means I started cooking in the past, and I'm still cooking now. I haven't finished. I'm
still continuing to cook. I'm not done yet. So, in this one, first of all, there's a difference
because I'm not finished, it's still continuing, and secondly because the focus is more on
the process, on the activity. Not so much on the result, okay?
So, this second one that we looked at, "I have been cooking dinner", is the tense we're
learning here. This is the present perfect continuous tense. That first example you looked
at was the present perfect tense by itself, alright?
So, let's just take a quick look at how this tense is formed. So, you have the subject,
I, You, We, They, etc. You have two helping verbs, have been or has been, and then you
have a verb + -ing. For example, "I have been learning." You can use this, you can use this
right now, because let's say you started learning English in the past, and you're still learning
now, right? So, you could say, "I have been learning English for some time." Okay? So,
I have been learning. You have been learning. We have been learning. They have been learning.
But here, we have to change it a little bit. He has been learning. She has been learning.
It has been learning. It might be a computer or artificial intelligence, okay? So here,
you see the difference between "have been" and "has been". And we'll be looking at all
of this much more in detail as we go forward.
Now, let's look at when to use the present perfect continuous tense. So, as I said earlier,
you can use it for something that started in the past, and it still continues now. For
example, "We have been working on this project for six months." What does that mean? We started
working in the past, six months ago, and we have been working and working and working
and working, so therefore, you can say, "We have been working". So, "have been working",
that's the tense, the present perfect continuous tense, alright? There you go. And it means
that they started six months ago and they are still working, alright? So, it combines
that past and present.
We could also say, "Sea levels have been rising." So, where's the present - where's the tense
here? Right here. "Have been rising". Now, for example, I took this example on purpose
because let's say that you're appearing for an English exam, such as IELTS or TOEFL or
some other English proficiency exam, or you're writing at university level, then let's suppose
you have a topic on Global Warming and you have to write about it. If you write a sentence
like that, using one of these perfect tenses, you will definitely score much higher, because
this is an advanced tense. And it shows the examiner that you understand and can use correctly
the advanced English tenses, okay? So, keep that in mind.
Next, we can also use the present perfect continuous tense to talk about something that
started in the past and it just finished recently, okay? I know I told you that it continues,
but really, it was continuing and continuing and continuing until just now. For example,
let's say that you're trying to reach your friend, right? And you're calling them and
calling them, you've been calling and calling and they haven't answered and you're getting
a little bit worried. And finally, your friend calls. And you say, "Hey, where have you been?
I've been calling you for hours." That means you're calling in all the time in the past,
including almost just now, until the friend called. Okay? So, here's "I've been calling".
I've is a short form for saying "I have", alright? We will learn that.
Another example of that kind: We have been waiting for you. So, let's say you're at a
restaurant and you're supposed to meet this friend. Maybe it's the same friend, I don't
know. Okay? And you've been waiting and waiting and waiting and your friend's not coming,
you don't know what happened to them. And the finally, your friend shows up and you
said, "Hey, where have you been? We've been waiting for you." We have been waiting. So
that means you were waiting all the time in the past till now. So therefore, we can use
"have been waiting" in this situation, okay?
You can also use this tense with a lot of common expressions. Let me show you what they
are. Let's take this sentence: I've been studying for three hours. So, "I've been studying"
is the tense itself, and the word "for" is very often used with this tense. Let's look
at the other sentence: I've been studying since 5:00. Again, this is the tense, and
the word now is "since". So, what's the difference between "for" and "since"? I hope you know,
but let's just refresh. So, "for" is talking about a period of time, and "since" is talking
about a point in time. Alright? Since 5:00, let's say it's 8:00 now. I've been studying
for three hours, or I've been studying since 5:00, alright? Good.
Another expression: It has been raining all day. So, "has been raining", this is the tense.
And this is the expression. We could say, "all day", "all night", "all morning", "all
afternoon", "all evening", okay? Doesn't matter. But anything like that which suggests a period
of time and that something can continue during that period, okay?
And another one: She has been exercising a lot lately. Or: She has been exercising a
lot recently. So, lately and recently means in the short time before now. So, these are
the expressions, okay, lately or recently. And "has been exercising" is the tense itself.
So, these are the main situations in which we can use this tense.
So, in English, we have two kinds of verbs. Dynamic verbs and stative verbs. Dynamic verbs
are like action verbs, and stative verbs describe some kind of state or condition. Most verbs
are dynamic. Examples of dynamic verbs are: eat, run, work. And examples of stative verbs
might be: think, believe, or love. Okay? There is a long list of stative verbs which you
need to check, look at a good grammar book. Why is that important? Because with this continuous
tense, or any continuous tense, you cannot use stative verbs. No stative verbs, okay?
So, let's look at some examples of what you cannot do and how you cannot use the present
perfect continuous tense.
So, we cannot say, for example: I have been knowing John for two years. That is wrong.
Why? Because "know" is an example of a stative verb, and we cannot use stative verbs with
this tense. So, this is wrong, okay? Completely wrong. And what you would need to do in that
case is not use the present perfect continuous, but just use the present perfect. You could
say, "I have known John for two years." "Have known" is just present perfect and that's
fine, okay? Because why? Not because of the activity, but because of the verb itself.
The verb itself being stative means that we can't use it in the continuous form, okay?
Let's take another example. You cannot say: He has been liking this book all his life.
No. Why? Because "like" is another one of those stative verbs. So, you cannot use it
in that continuous form. You can say, "He has liked this book all his life." So there,
you're using what? Present perfect and not present perfect continuous.
Another example: The students have not been understanding this lecture. That is wrong.
Why? Because "understand" is another stative verb and we cannot use stative verbs with
the continuous tenses, right? So, what do we need to say instead? "The students have
not understood this lecture." And this is an example of a present perfect sentence,
okay? So, if you're trying to express some ideas, think about whether the verb is stative
or dynamic. If it's stative, you cannot use the present perfect continuous tense.
Now, let's look at how we form the present perfect continuous tense, which is also called
the present perfect progressive tense. Alright, so basically, we're taking the subject + "have
been" or "has been" + the verb + -ing. This verb + -ing is sometimes referred to as present
participle, but if you don't know that term or you don't like that word, forget about
it. What it means is just the verb in its base form + -ing, alright?
Now, I've divided the board into three parts for positive sentences, negative sentences,
and for questions. So, let's go through each section and see what happens. So, for "I,
You, We, and They", we say something like this: I have been working. So, our sample
verb here is a regular verb first: to work. Our sample irregular verb is the verb "to
go", alright? So, let's see how both of them can be used very easily in this tense. So,
you could say, "I have been working". You have been working. We have been working. They
have been working. But, for "He, She, and It", you know we have to change it a little
bit, then we have to say, "He has been working". She has been working. It has been working.
Let's say the air conditioner, okay?
That's with the regular verb. If you have an irregular verb like "go", it's exactly
the same thing. I have been going, you have been going, okay? No problem. That's in a
Now, let's look at the negative option. In a negative sentence, we would just add basically
the word "not". So, you would say, "I have not been working". You have not been working.
We have not been working. They have not been working. Okay, the "not" just makes it negative.
And if we want to shorten that or contract it, then "have not" becomes "haven't", right?
How are we doing that? We're basically cancelling this o and we're joining the two words, have
+ not into one word, which is pronounced "haven't". Say it after me: haven't. Good. So, you could
say, "I haven't been working". Okay? And most of the time in conversation, that's what we
use. We use these contractions a lot, alright?
Next, let's look at what happens for he, she, and it. There, also, we're basically we're
adding "not". So, we would say, "He has not been working." She has not been working. It
has not been working. Or, "He hasn't been working". She hasn't been working. It hasn't
been working. Okay? Say it after me: hasn't. Good. We're going to practice that a little
bit more soon.
Next, let's look at what happens when we form a question. This is always a little bit trickier,
so be careful. So here, first we have "have". Have you been working? Have they been working?
Right? It's the same for everyone. Has he been working? Has she been working? Has it
been working? Okay? So again, the "have" with "I, You, We and They", and "has" with "He,
She, and It". And we still have to have the "have" and the "been", you see that everywhere,
have been, has been, has been, okay? So here, in this tense, we have two helping verbs,
alright? We have the subject, we have the helping verb "have", we have the helping verb
"to be" in the form of "been", okay? So "have been" or "has been", plus whatever verb you
want, plus -ing.
And that's basically how we construct the present perfect continuous tense. Now remember
that just like in many other tenses, if you want to add like, a question word, then you
can do that, you just have to put it in the right place, like here. You could say, "Where
have you been working?" Why have you been working? How long have you been working, alright?
So, whenever you want to add those question words or phrases, you can do that, just put
it here before this structure and keep the rest of the structure exactly like that, and
you'll be absolutely fine.
Now, I gave you an example with the verb "work" and the irregular verb "go", but it will work
the same way with any other verb. For example, the verb "save". Let's try that one. You have
been saving money. You haven't been saving money. Have you been saving money? Or, let's
take an irregular verb like "think". I've been thinking about changing my job. I haven't
been thinking of changing my job. Have you been thinking of changing your job? Okay?
So, whether it's a regular verb or an irregular verb, it's going to follow exactly this pattern.
Now, let's look at contractions and pronunciation to make sure that you can spell and say the
words associated with this tense correctly. Let's get started. So, the first one: I have
been working. That's the full form, but as I said, when we're speaking, we usually shorten
it. We contract it. So, let's see exactly what's happening so that when you write it,
you're also spelling it correctly. So, "I have been" becomes "I've been". So, how do
you know where to put the apostrophe? You put it where you take out some letters. So,
what did we take out here? "I've" is short for "I have", so we took out the h and the
a and we added an apostrophe and we joined these two words. So, "I have" becomes "I've".
Let's say it now: I've been working. Good.
The next one, if it's negative: I have not been working. Right? So here, that becomes
"I haven't been working". Say it after me: I haven't been working. Good. What did we
do there? What did we take out? We took out - took "have not", it became "haven't". So,
we took out what? We took out the o, added the apostrophe and we joined those two words.
Okay? So, say it after me: I've been working. I haven't been working. Now, when you're saying
that, make sure that you're pronouncing that t at the end, because if you don't, then it
will sound like the positive version a little bit, okay? And it can sound confusing to the
listeners, so "I haven't", "I haven't been working". There's a "t" sound at the end.
So, now, let's see how it works with each of the subjects. "You have been" becomes "You've
been", alright? "We have been", "We've been". You can repeat it after me. "They have been"
becomes "They've been". "You have not been working" becomes "You haven't been working".
"We have not been working" becomes "We haven't been working". "They have not been working"
becomes "They haven't been working". Okay? Let's say it again quickly. You haven't been.
We haven't been. They haven't been. And, of course, if you're trying to say this tense,
you must say that verb + -ing after that, okay, we're just not saying it right now because
we're focusing on the pronunciation here. Okay.
Now, what happens with "He, She, and It"? A similar idea. "He has been working" becomes
what, when we shorten it? "He's been working". Okay? So, what happened here? "He has", we
took out this, right? And we just put the apostrophe. Alright? And that becomes "He's".
"He's been working". Alright? Say it after me: He's been working. Now, even though there's
an s, it sounds a little bit like a zee or a zed sound: "he'z, z, he'z been working".
If we make it negative, "He has not been working" becomes what? "He hasn't been working". So,
what happened here? This is short for "has not". We took out the o, we added the apostrophe
and we contracted those words, so we say, "He hasn't been working". Good. Let's do the
same thing here. "She has been working" becomes "She's been". "It has been", "It's been".
Now, you see this "been". I'm really saying it pretty short and fast, right? I'm not saying
"beeeen", it's "beeeen" a long time, no. It's been, it's short, alright? So, make sure you're
And similarly, here with the negative: She has not been working becomes "She hasn't been
working." You say it, good. "It has not been working" becomes "It hasn't been working".
You say it, good. Okay? So now, you know the contractions and the pronunciation of this
Now, let's look at some of the spelling changes we need to make in the main verb. So, for
most verbs, all you have to do to add that verb + -ing is to add the -ing. For example,
"think" becomes "thinking". "Fix", "fixing", right? All we have to do most of the time
is to just add that -ing.
However, there are a few exceptions. For verbs ending in a e to begin with, we have to drop
the e and then add the -ing. For example, the word "change", right, it ends with an
e here, you see that? And it becomes "changing". Right? We drop the e. "Hire", ends with an
e and we made it "hiring", without the e. Okay?
Next, verbs that end in ie. There, we have to change the ie to a y. For example, "tie"
becomes "tying". "Lie" with lie becomes "lying" with lying. Alright?
Now, for verbs ending in c-v-c, okay, what does that mean? C-v-c stands for "Constant,
vowel, consonant". So, you know what a vowel is in English, A, E, I, O, U, these are the
vowels, and every other letter in English is a consonant. So, if the verb, when you
look at it, if it - we look at it from the end, alright? If this letter is a consonant
and then a vowel and then a consonant, then what you have to do is to double the last
letter. For example, "plan" becomes "planning". "Run", right, if we look at it from here,
consonant, vowel, consonant, right? So "run" becomes "running". Alright? That's it. These
are the main changes in spelling that you need to make it for the verb itself. The base
Now, let's look at how to give a short answer in a polite way using this tense. So, let's
suppose that somebody asks you, "Have you been going to the gym?" Your answer is probably
going to be "Yes" or "No", right? But in English, we don't usually just say "yes" or "no", we
say a little bit more. But we don't have to repeat everything they said in the question.
So, let's look at how it works.
So, if they ask you, "Have you been going to the gym?" You could say, "Yes, I have",
or "No, I haven't". And you get this part from the question itself, right? The question
begins with "have" and you can use this in your answer. The important point to remember
is if it's a positive answer, we cannot use any contraction there. So, you have to say
the full "Yes, I have" or "No, I haven't".
The same thing here. Let's look at this example: Has he been helping you? So, what could you
say? "Yes, he has", or "No, he hasn't". And once again, we have to use no contraction.
We cannot use the contraction. You have to use the full form, alright?
So, let me ask you a few questions, and you can give me the answer. Have you been getting
up early? These days, or recently? So, you probably could say, "Yes, I have", or "No,
One more question: Have you been working hard recently? "Yes, I have", or "No, I haven't".
And the last question, "Have you been learning English tenses?" I know your answer for this
one. Your answer would be "Yes, I have".
Now, let's do some practice. So, what I've done is I've written some phrases and some
sentences on the board. And what we will do orally, this time we're not going to write
it, we're just going to say it, is we're going to take these phrases and change them into
present perfect progressive or continuous. And first we'll make positive sentences, then
we'll make negative ones, and then we'll make questions. Maybe not the full sentence, but
just this phrase, okay?
So, let me show you an example with number one. So here, it says, "They watch". So, if
we want to change this, which is right now, all present simple, okay? "They watch". If
we want to change it to present perfect continuous, what does it become? "They have been watching".
Let's do number two: She sleeps - She has been sleeping. Okay? You can either say it
with me if the answer comes to you quickly, or you can say it after me.
Number three: It works - It has been working.
You attend - You have been attending. Good!
Number five: We pay - We have been paying.
He teaches - He has been teaching.
They go - They have been going.
She organizes - She has been organizing. Okay? Good.
So, you did eight which are positive. Now, let's make them negative.
They watch - They - Okay, let's do this. Instead of saying "They have not", this time, let's
use the contraction, okay? So, "They watch" - "They haven't been watching".
She sleeps - She hasn't been sleeping.
It works - It hasn't been working.
You attend - You haven't been attending.
We pay - We haven't been paying.
He teaches - He hasn't been teaching.
They go - They haven't been going.
She organizes - She hasn't been organizing. Okay? Very nice, good for you!
Now, there are two more. So, let's see what we can do with them. So now, this is a full
sentence in the present perfect continuous tense, two sentences, and we're going to make
them negative and then we're going to make a question, okay?
So first, let's read it: They have been living in New York.
Make it negative: They haven't been living in New York.
Make it a question: Have they been living in New York? Good!
Number ten: He has been reading.
Make it negative: He hasn't been reading.
And make it a question; change the order: Has he been reading? Okay! That's super!
So now, let's look at some common mistakes that are made with this tense and how you
can avoid them. So, the mistakes tend to be of three different kinds. Sometimes, the wrong
verb is used. Sometimes, the wrong tense is used, and sometimes, the wrong word is used.
Let's look at the examples.
In the first one, the student wrote: I have been understanding the lesson. That's wrong.
Tell me why. Why is it wrong? Because it's the wrong verb being used in the wrong way.
Because "understand" is one of those stative verbs, right? So, we cannot use the stative
verb "understand" in that continuous form. The correct from of that sentence would have
been: I have understood the lesson. So here, we would have needed to use the present perfect
tense and not the present perfect continuous with this verb. Okay?
Next, sometimes the wrong tense is used by a student. For example, this student wrote:
I am working here since 2018. That's wrong. Why? Because this is actually present continuous,
and present continuous only talks about now. So, if the student only said, "I am working
here", that would have been okay, but the student added, "since 2018". So, in that case,
we cannot use that present continuous tense. We needed to, in fact, use the present perfect
continuous, which connects the past and the present. So here, it should have been: I have
been working here since 2018. So, in this case, sometimes you have to identify, is this
the right place to use the present perfect tense? Which other tenses are there? What
should I be using? And use the right tense at the right time.
Next, sometimes the wrong word is being used somewhere in the sentence. For example, a
common mistake is here: I've been living here since three years. That's wrong. Why? Because
of this word, "since", right? We can't use "since" like that. "Since" is supposed to
be used with what? A point in time, not a period of time. The correct sentence would
have been: I've been living here for three years. Okay? "For three years", "since 2018",
for example, alright? So, be careful to avoid these mistakes when you're using this tense.
So, to review, you know the present perfect continuous tense when you know when to use
it and how to use it. So, let's review again the "how to use it" part.
The positive sentence: It has been snowing all day.
The negative: It hasn't been snowing all day.
The question: Has it been snowing all day?
Alright? When you can do that and move quickly between the positive, the negative, the question,
then you have mastered how to construct this tense, and how to formulate the sentence or
the question, alright?
So, this is really amazing. I hope you recognize that it's quite an achievement to get to this
point in your study of English, where you can use this tense. It's really a good achievement,
so feel good about yourself, feel proud of yourself. Clearly, you're a serious student
and you have serious goals and you are achieving them, okay? So, I really congratulate you
Now, if you want to take it a little bit further, practice now. Use this tense. Use some examples.
What have you been doing recently? Write about yourself, write a few things, okay? What have
you been doing recently? What have you been studying recently? What have you been learning
recently? What have you been watching? What have you been doing in general, okay? Write
some sentences about yourself, about members about your family, and this way you will really
master this tense, okay?
Now, after that, if you'd like, it's time to move on when you feel you've understood
this tense well, then move on to the next tense in our series, which is the past perfect
tense. Alright? And in case you feel that you'd like to review a little bit more, then
please do the quiz that we have on this tense on www.engvid.com . Thanks very much for watching
and all the best with your English.