Present perfect and present perfect continuous tenses
The present perfect and present perfect continuous tenses are often confused. Of course, there are situations when both tense forms are possible. For example, consider the following sentences.
- I have lived in this street for ten years. OR I have been living in this street for ten years.
- It has rained since morning. OR It has been raining since morning.
The pairs of sentences given above express the same idea. They are used to talk about actions or situations that started in the past and have continued up to the present.
Although both forms are possible in most cases, the present perfect continuous tense is mainly used to talk about actions or situations that have continued over a shorter period of time. For longer or more permanent situations we use the present perfect tense.
- That castle has stood on the hill for 500 years.
Here we use the present perfect tense because we are talking about a longer lasting or more permanent situation.
- She has been standing at the gate for two hours.
Here we use the present perfect continuous tense because we are talking about an action that has continued over a shorter period of time.
More examples using the present perfect continuous tense are given below.
- I have been working since morning.
- It has been raining for hours.
- She has been playing the piano since morning.
- I have been writing letters for two hours.
Note that it is possible to express these ideas using the present perfect tense, but the perfect continuous forms sound more natural.