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English Tenses: Present Perfect Simple vs. Present Perfect Continuous

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The English language has several tenses that are used to express actions that take place in the past, present, and future. Among them, the Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Continuous tenses are two commonly used tenses that are often confused.

This article will provide a comprehensive explanation of these two tenses and highlight the differences between them. It will help English learners and native speakers alike understand when to use each tense and how to form them correctly.

Difference between Present Perfect Simple vs. Present Perfect Continuous

Present Perfect Simple Tense

The Present Perfect Simple tense is used to express an action that started in the past and has a connection to the present. It is formed with the present tense of the verb “to have” followed by the past participle of the main verb. It is used to talk about life experiences, changes, or actions with undefined time frames, or to describe the result of past actions.


Formed by adding “have/has” to the past participle

S + have/has + V3


  • Used with finished actions

The kids have played for 2 hours.

  • Used for permanent actions

I have taught English for 12 years.

  • Emphasis on the result of the action

He has repaired the car.

  • Indicate “How much/How many have been completed”

It has taken six years to write this book.

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The Present Perfect Continuous Tense is used to describe an action that started in the past and is still ongoing or has just finished.


Formed by adding “have/has been” to the present participle

S + have/has + been + V-ing


Used with unfinished actions

  • The kids have been playing since morning.

Used for temporary actions

  • I have been teaching this class for one hour.

Emphasis on the duration of the action

  • He has been repairing the car for 2 hours.

Indicates “How long something has been happening”

  • He has been studying English for two months.


Always use the present perfect simple (not continuous) with the verbs believe, know, understand, like/dislike, belong, own:

For examples:

  • We’ve known each other since we were kids.
  • I’ve never understood math very well.
  • He’s always liked sports.
  • I have believed in aliens since I was a child.
  • I have known him for 10 years.
  • I have understood the concept after the teacher explained it.
  • I have liked chocolate ice cream since I was a kid.
  • This pen has belonged to my grandmother for over 50 years.
  • I have owned this car for 5 years now.
  • She has always believed in the power of positive thinking.
  • They have known each other since they were in preschool.
  • He has understood the importance of exercise for his health.
  • She has disliked tomatoes since she was a young girl.
  • The book has belonged to the library for many years.
  • They have owned their house for over 20 years.

The present perfect simple and present perfect continuous are two different tenses used in English to describe actions that have happened in the past with a connection to the present. The present perfect simple is used to describe completed actions with a result in the present, while the present perfect continuous is used to describe ongoing actions that started in the past and continue until now.

It is important to understand the distinction between these two tenses to effectively communicate in English. In conclusion, the choice between the present perfect simple and continuous depends on the specific action being described and its duration and relevance to the present.

Present Perfect Simple vs. Present Perfect Continuous | Image

Present perfect simple vs. present perfect continuous – Picture

Difference between Present Perfect Simple vs. Present Perfect Continuous


Thursday 7th of January 2021

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