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Present perfect simple or present perfect continuous?

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

To talk about the length of the action, we use the continuous form.
• She’s been driving for hours.
(Driving because we are talking about how long the action took – hours)
• We’ve been working very hard for a couple of months.
(Working because we are talking about how long the action took – months)

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

Remember: Simple for the action. Continuous for the length of the action.
  • Exercise 1

    Remember: Simple for the action. Continuous for the length of the action.

    Is the focus of these sentences on the action or the length of 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 action. Continuous for the length of 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 action. Continuous for the length of the action.

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

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