When to use the Present perfect continuous

The present perfect continuous refers to an unspecified time between ‘before now’ and ‘now’. The speaker is thinking about something that started but perhaps did not finish in that period of time. He/she is interested in the process as well as the result, and this process may still be going on, or may have just finished.


1. Actions that started in the past and continue in the present.

  • She has been waiting for you all day (=and she’s still waiting now).
  • I’ve been working on this report since eight o’clock this morning (=and I still haven’t finished it).
  • They have been travelling since last October (=and they’re not home yet).

2. Actions that have just finished, but we are interested in the results:

  • She has been cooking since last night (=and the food on the table looks delicious).
  • It’s been raining (= and the streets are still wet).
  • Someone’s been eating my chips (= half of them have gone).

Verbs without continuous forms

With verbs not normally used in the continuous form, use the present perfect simple. See list of these verbs under ‘Present Continuous’:

  • I’ve wanted to visit China for years.
  • She’s known Robert since she was a child.
  • I’ve hated that music since I first heard it.
  • I’ve heard a lot about you recently.
  • We’ve understood everything we’ve heard this morning.

How to form the Present Perfect Continuous

The present perfect continuous is made up of two elements:

  1. the present perfect of the verb ‘to be’ (have/has been), and
  2. the present participle of the main verb (base+ing).
Subjecthas/have beenbase+ing
Shehas beenswimming
She has been / She’s beenrunning
She hasn’t beenrunning
Has she beenrunning?
Interrogative negative
Hasn’t she beenrunning?

Example: to live, present perfect continuous

have been livingI haven’t been livingHave I been living?
You have been livingYou haven’t been livingHave you been living?
He, she, it has been livingHe hasn’t been livingHas she been living?
We have been livingWe haven’t been livingHave we been living?
You have been livingYou haven’t been livingHave you been living?
They have been livingThey haven’t been livingHave they been living?