In this lesson you’ll learn when to use the present perfect simple and when to use the present perfect continuous tenses in English. Read the grammar explanation below and then try the exercises. There is a classroom presentation version of this lesson in the Materials tab above. This lesson is part of our Intermediate English Course.
Have / has + Past participle
Have / has + been + gerund
Sometimes there is no difference between the simple and the continuous, for example;
Sometimes there is a big difference in meaning between the simple and continuous.
The difference can distinguish between finished and unfinished actions;
If something happened repeatedly or during a period (especially if the emphasis is how long it had been happening for)
If something has been happening recently that has results that are evident in the present you can use the continuous form.
When we say explicitly how many times something had happened we don’t use the present perfect continuous. When saying how many times something happened, use the present perfect simple.
We generally avoid the continuous with non-action (stative) verbs like know, believe, want, need, hate, like etc.. These verbs describe states.
This has more to do with the sense or meaning of the verb than the verb itself. Be careful, some verbs can have a stative (non-action) meaning and a dynamic (action) meaning. For example, the verb have, can be used as an action or a state.
Check your comprehension of how and when to use these tenses with the interactive grammar exercises below.