Go to Top

Present perfect simple or present perfect continuous?

To talk about the result of the action we use the simple form. To talk about the action we use the continuous form.

A car has been locked to a post using a very thin bicycle lock.

I have locked the car.

To talk about the result of the action we use the simple form.
• I’ve made fifteen phone calls this morning.
(The result is fifteen phone calls)
• He’s written a very good report.
(The result is a good report)

To talk about the action we use the continuous form.
• She’s been driving for hours.
(The driving is the action)
• We’ve been working very hard for a couple of months.
(The working is the action)

Compare:
• I’ve been reading this book for two months, but I’ve only read half of it.
(Reading in the continuous form to emphasise the length of time. Read in the simple for because the result is only half of the book has been read)
• She’s been trying to convince him for 20 minutes but she hasn’t managed to yet.
(The action in the continuous form, the result in the simple form)

Remember: Simple for the result. Continuous for the action.
  • Exercise 1

    Remember: Simple for the result. Continuous for the action.

    Is the focus on the result or the action?

    Remember: Simple for the result. Continuous for the action.

    Is the focus on the result or the action?

    Exercise 2

    Re-write and CAREFULLY complete each sentence using either the simple or continuous form of the words in brackets.

    Re-write and CAREFULLY complete each sentence using either the simple or continuous form of the words in brackets.

  • Remember: Simple for the result. Continuous for the action.

    I have been sitting in this tree for three hours.

     A cow has been sitting in a tree for many hours.

  • Remember: Simple for the result. Continuous for the action.

    A train has been coming through the market for many years. Every day the sellers have had to move their baskets. The train has become popular with tourists.

    Remember: Simple for the result. Continuous for the action.

    I have been walking through China, and I have had many wonderful experiences. Also, I have a beard.