The Present Perfect Continuous in English

Aligned to Common Core Standards, CCSS.L.4.1b, CCSS.L.5.1,CCSS.L.5.1.B, CCSS.L.6.1.E, and CCSS.CCRA.L.1

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We’ve been thinking that you’re here to learn about the present perfect continuous, right? Well, look no further. In this article, we’ll show you how to form the present perfect continuous tense and how to form this English tense, with some present perfect continuous examples, timesaver flashcards, and a mini quiz.

The present perfect continuous or present perfect progressive is a particular type of tense in English. It is used for the following:

  1. To refer to actions that started in the past and continue.
  2. To reflect on finished actions.
  3. To emphasize the duration of action.
Present Perfect Continuous Example

Present Perfect Continuous: Statements and Examples

The present perfect continuous, like most tenses, can be stated in the affirmative, negative, affirmative interrogative, and negative interrogative. Take a look at the table below.

Type Subject Auxillary Verb One Auxillary Verb Two Main Verb Example
Affirmative I/you/we/they have been playing I have been playing
Affirmative She/he/it has been sleeping She has been sleeping
Negative I/you/we/they have not been waiting We haven't been waiting
Negative She/he/it/they has not been studying She hasn't been studying
Interrogative Have I/you/we/they been doing Have they been doing their homework?
Interrogative neg Hasn't she/he/it been listening Hasn't she been listening to music?

Present Perfect Continuous: Affirmative 

The present perfect continuous tense can be made into an affirmative statement. This means that it’s a positive sentence confirming the action.

Present perfect continuous affirmative statements are formed by following this structure:

Subject + has/ have + been + base verb + ing (suffix) + extra information (if required)

Example sentences

  • Has she been running? She has been running.
  • What has he been doing? He has been traveling.
  • Where have they been playing? They have been playing in the garden.
  • How long have you been living here? We’ve been living in Brooklyn for 2 years.
  • What have you been doing? I’ve been tuning my guitar.

Present Perfect Continuous: Negative

The present perfect continuous tense can also be formed in the negative. These sentences state that something is negative. In English, we form negative clauses by adding -not after the auxiliary verb, ‘has/have been.’

 Let’s take a look at the following structure:

Subject + has/ have + been + -not + base verb+ ing (suffix) + extra information (if required)

Example sentences

  • I haven’t been working; I’ve been relaxing.
  • She hasn’t been swimming for years!
  • I haven’t been traveling for that long.
  • We haven’t been waiting long.
  • Mary hasn’t been working for the last couple of weeks.
  • She has not been answering her phone.

Present Perfect Continuous: Affirmative Interrogative

Affirmative interrogative clauses ask questions. They are positive and usually expect the response to be ‘yes.’ They follow the structure below in the present perfect continuous tense:

Has/ have + been + subject + base verb + ing (suffix) + extra information (if required) + ? 

Example sentences

  • Has Sally been working today?
  • Have you ever been traveling?
  • Have you been breaking things again?
  • Have Todd and Emily (they) been causing mischief?
  • Has she been playing with her friends?
  • Have you been building this house for a long time?

Present Perfect Continuous: Negative Interrogative

Negative interrogative clauses also ask questions, but the expected response is usually ‘no.’

We form the present perfect continuous as a negative interrogative statement like this:

Has/ have + been + -not + subject + base verb+ ing (suffix) + extra information (if required) + ? 

Example sentences

  • Hasn’t she been napping?
  • Haven’t you been swimming?
  • Haven’t they been waiting?
  • Have you not been working all this time?
  • Haven’t they been listening?
  • Hasn’t he been sharing with his friends?

Present Perfect Continuous Flashcards

See if you can use the correct form of the present perfect continuous for each sentence.

Using Adverbs With The Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The present perfect continuous tense can be used with adverbs, specifically adverbs of time or frequency, as these express how long the action verb has been going on and gives context to the sentence.

You can use the following expressions of time:

  • Often
  • Long
  • Much
  • For
  • Since
  • All
  • Day
  • Morning
  • Night
  • Afternoon

Example sentences

  • Haven’t you been working all day?
  • I’ve been studying since this morning.
  • Have you been waiting for a long time?
  • I have been training to be a doctor for 7 years.
  • Grandma has been napping all afternoon!
  • Amazon has been delivering books to customers since 1994.
  • Instagram has been working since 2010.
  • They have been worrying about you all week.

Tips & Tricks For The Present Perfect Continuous

  • When adding -ing to an action verb, make note of what letter the base verb ends in. For example, if the verb ends in ‘e,’ we eliminate the -e and add -ing. Example: ‘dance becomes dancing, not danceing.’
  • When an action verb ends in a consonant sound, in British English, they sometimes repeat the last letter and add
    -ing. Example: ‘Cancel becomes cancelling, not canceling.
  • However, in American English, this rule doesn’t always apply. There are also a few inconsistencies, such as, ‘pull becomes pulling, not pullling with three ‘Ls.’
  • Remember to use the suffix -ing when forming a present perfect continuous sentence. It’s not; ‘it has been rain all day. It would be; it has been raining all day!’

Verbs Without A Continuous Form

Some verbs are rarely used in the continuous form, as they are normally verbs that you can’t see someone doing. When using these verbs, we normally follow the present perfect simple structure. For example:

  • Want
  • Cost
  • Need
  • Owe
  • Exist
  • Belong
  • Need
  • Fear
  • Envy
  • Dislike
  • Possess

Present Perfect Continuous Tense Quiz

Think you've got it? Test your understanding of examples of the present perfect continuous here. Got a question wrong? Press reset and try again.

1. It _____ been snowing.

Choose the best answer from the choices below

Possible answers

2. They haven't ____ studying. (Negative)

Choose the best answer from the choices below

Possible answers

3. I'm tired because I ________ working.

Choose the best answer from the choices below

Possible answers

4. Sophie ________ fostering cats since March.

Choose the best answer from the choices below

Possible answers

5. _____ they been playing outside?

Choose the best answer from the choices below

Possible answers

And that’s it. You’ve been learning about the present perfect continuous tense. If you’re after more grammar help, we have a wide range of topics for you to explore!