2.1 MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Present Perfect Simple and Continuous

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Question English
Answer English

Ongoing situations
Use either the Present Perfect Simple or the Present Perfect Continuous to talk about situations or repeated actions which started in the past and continue into the present. Often there is no important difference with verbs such as work, live, study, do.
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Ella's worked or Ella's been working for the company for a year now.

Use the Present Perfect Continuous to emphasise that an action has continued for a long time or is repeated often with verbs of duration, such as wait, stay, run, play, sit, stand, write, etc.
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We've been sitting here for over an hour. How long have you been waiting?

Use the Present Perfect Simple with state verbs such as know, understand, like to talk about an unfinished situation.
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How long have you known Jon?

Completed actions (recent or in time up to now)
I've cut my finger.
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Use the Present Perfect Simple with actions which are short and completed, e.g. drop, start, finish, leave, break, lose, etc.

Use the Present Perfect Simple to emphasise a completed action or result. It often answers the questions: how many?, how much?, how far?
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He's phoned me at least four times today. She's run 500 kilometres and she's raised 5,000 euros so far.

Present evidence
They look hot. Yes, they've been running. Sorry about the smell. I've been cooking fish.
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Sometimes the Present Perfect Continuous is used when there is present evidence of a recent longer activity.

Complete the answers with
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the Present Perfect Simple or the Present Perfect Continuous form of the verbs in brackets.

Why are you looking so pleased with yourself?
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Because I've looking for some new jeans and I've found a pair I like. Because I've just bought a new pair of jeans.

You look hot.
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Yes, I've run 15 kilometres. Yes, I've been running.

What's the matter?
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We've been traying to decide where to go on holiday this year. We've decided we can't afford a holiday this year.

What's up with Jake?
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He 's hurt his knee. He's been fighting with Serge again!

I feel sick.
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That's because you've eaten a whole packet of biscuits. That's because you've been eating ice cream all afternoon.

I teach biology at the high school.
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I teach biology at the high school. How long have you been teaching there?

I collect antique books.
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I collect antique books. How long have you been collecting them? How many have you collected?

I study English every evening.
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I study English every evening. How long have you been studying it?

I'm saving up money for university.
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I'm saving up money for university. How long have you been saving? How much have you saved?

I have a house on a Greek island.
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I have a house on a Greek island. How long have you had it?

I know Maria well.
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I know Maria well. How long have you known her?

Rule 1.
We've been doing this for three years now.
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Use the Present Perfect Continuous when we want to emphasise that an action is repeated or has lasted for a long time and continues up to now.

Rule 2
Since we started, the company has cleaned over a hundred outfits.
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Use the Present Perfect Simple when an action is shorter and completed before now. It has present relevance or a present effect.

Rule 3.
We've already raised £4,000.
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Use the Present Perfect Simple when we say how many times someone did something or say how much they did

Use the Present Perfect Simple OR the Present Perfect Continuous with verbs such as work, live, wait, study, do with little or no difference in meaning.

Rule 5.
Twenty-six-year-old Ryan Sinclair has always loved bikes.
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Use the Present Perfect Simple with state verbs such as know, have, be, love,


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