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Present Perfect Continuous Tense: How to Use It, With Examples

Updated on May 17, 2023Grammar

The present perfect continuous (also known as the present perfect progressive) is a verb tense used to talk about something that started in the past and is continuing at the present time.

I have been reading War and Peace for a month now.

In this sentence, using the present perfect continuous conveys that reading War and Peace is an activity that began sometime in the past and is not yet finished in the present (which is understandable, given the length of Leo Tolstoy’s weighty tome).

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How to form the present perfect continuous

The formula for the present perfect continuous tense is has/have been + [present participle (root form of verb + -ing)].

Recently and lately are words that we often find with verbs in the present perfect continuous tense.

Mia has been competing in flute competitions recently (and she will continue to do so).
I haven’t been feeling well lately.
Recently, I’ve been misplacing my wallet and keys.

Not all verbs are compatible with continuous action. Verbs that describe states and conditions, such as to be and to own, for example, do not make sense in the present perfect continuous tense. When you want to show that what is being described by one of these verbs continues up to the present, you use the regular present perfect tense.

I have been owning my Mazda since 2007.

I have owned my Mazda since 2007.

Gus has been being late for work recently.

Gus has been late for work recently.

Gus has been arriving late for work recently.

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