Present Perfect Continuous | Examples & Exercises
The present perfect continuous is a verb tense used to refer to an action that started sometime in the past and is still ongoing. It also sometimes describes an action that was just completed, as long as it’s still relevant to the present (e.g., “I’ve been working hard all day, and now I’m getting some rest”).
The present perfect continuous consists of “have been” or “has been” (depending on the subject) followed by the present participle (“-ing” form) of the main verb.
Table of contents
- How to use the present perfect continuous
- Present perfect continuous vs. present perfect
- Present perfect continuous vs. present continuous
- How to form negatives
- How to form questions
- How to form the passive voice
- Exercises: Present perfect continuous
- Other interesting language articles
- Frequently asked questions about the present perfect continuous
How to use the present perfect continuous
The present perfect continuous begins with either has (for the third-person singular) or have (for all other persons). It always continues with been (the past participle of “be”) followed by the present participle of the main verb. The subject may be contracted with “have” or “has” (e.g., “I’ve,” “she’s”).
This tense is used to refer to actions that:
- Started in the past and are still ongoing
- Were recently completed and have results that are still relevant to the present
Present perfect continuous vs. present perfect
The present perfect and present perfect continuous can often be used interchangeably with little difference in meaning (e.g., “I have worked here for a long time” or “I have been working here for a long time”).
But there are situations where one is more appropriate than the other:
- The present perfect continuous must refer to an action that is either still ongoing or only very recently completed.
- The present perfect may refer to an action that’s still ongoing, but it may also describe an action that was completed a long time ago. Unlike the continuous, it may also be used with stative verbs (e.g., “I have known”).
Present perfect continuous vs. present continuous
The present continuous should not be used interchangeably with the present perfect continuous. Both tenses usually describe an ongoing action, but the present continuous differs in a few ways:
- It never refers to a completed action (“I am walking” never means that I’ve recently stopped walking).
- It doesn’t place emphasis on the past and shouldn’t be used with adverbial phrases that do (i.e., “I am walking since 2 o’clock” is incorrect).
- It can also refer to the future (e.g., “I am going to Rome in September”).
How to form negatives
How to form questions
Yes–no questions can be formed in the present perfect continuous by changing the word order: use “has”/”have,” followed by the subject, and then “been” and the present participle of the main verb.
You can form other types of questions with wh-words (interrogative pronouns like “whom” and interrogative adverbs like “when”). Add the appropriate wh-word at the start, and then use the same word order as above.
How to form the passive voice
It’s possible to use the present perfect continuous in the passive voice, but it’s quite rare to do so and often reads awkwardly. The awkwardness results from how long-winded this phrasing is and from the repetitive sound of “been being.”
If you do want to use the passive voice, the phrasing is “has/have been being” followed by the past participle of the main verb. But it’s almost always better to use the active voice instead or rephrase in some other way:
- John is convinced that he has been being followed for the last three miles.
- John is convinced that someone has been following him for the last three miles.
- Faisal has been being trained for his new position since June.
- Faisal has been in training for his new position since June.
Exercises: Present perfect continuous
Practice using the present perfect continuous correctly with the exercises below. In the blank space in each sentence, fill in the correct present perfect continuous form based on the subject and verb specified (e.g., “[she / ask]” becomes “she has been asking”). Some answers may also be negative statements or questions.
Other interesting language articles
Frequently asked questions about the present perfect continuous
- What is the difference between the present perfect and the present perfect continuous?
The present perfect tense and the present perfect continuous can both be used to refer to the present consequences of a past action or situation:
- The present perfect can be used to refer to a past action that may continue in the present (e.g., “I have lived here for six months”).
- The present perfect continuous refers to actions or situations that began in the past and are definitely continuing in the present (e.g., “I have been arguing with him constantly”).
- What is the “-ing” form of a verb?
The “-ing” form of a verb is called the present participle. Present participles can be used as adjectives (e.g., “a thrilling story”) and to form the continuous verb tenses (e.g., the present continuous: “We are partying”).
- What is the difference between a participle and a gerund?
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