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Try this with any main verb and the results will be the same.

to talk:
has been talking

to write:

has been writing

to go:

has been going

to walk:

has been walking

to have: 

has been having

Today's Date

How Have You Been Feeling?

The Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Although you are just now reading the first line of this podcast episode, I have been writing this podcast for several hours so far.  I began around 2:00 in the afternoon and it's now 4:38.  I stopped about one hour ago in order to watch the USOpen tennis match that was on TV.  Now I'm back; the match  is now over.  And now I'm back to writing. 

Mariana, one of our Help! Desk readers, wrote me an email in which she asked for help with verb tenses. She has been waiting very patiently for me to answer her question:


When do I need to use present perfect and present perfect continuous?  In which situations do I need to use each one?

Thanks a lot,


Last year we did a unit on the present perfect tense, so today we are going to add the continuous aspect. That means that we're going to emphasize the present!

The present perfect tense consists of two parts.   To form it, use -


1.       … the proper form of the verb have, and

2.       … the past participle (also known as the 3rd part) of the main verb.


The present perfect continuous tense (also known as present perfect progressive) consists of three parts:

   1.    … the proper form of the verb have, and  

  2.    … the past participle (also known as the 3rd part) of verb be, and
  3.    ...  the present participle (also known as the ~ing form) of the main verb.

Let's use the verb "feel" as our example.

1) The helping verb (to) have is first: have/has

2) Then we use the past participle of the helping verb be: been.

3) To that we add the present participle of the main verb feel: feeling.

The result is: have been feeling.

When do we use each one?

Present perfect continuous, like present perfect, begins in the past.  It also includes the present.

And like present continuous tense, present perfect continuous emphasizes the present. It emphasizes NOW.

If you want to include the past but to emphasize NOW, you must use the present perfect continuous

Like present continuous, many present perfect continuous sentences allow you to include a time expression.  This varies on the sentence.  Expressions such as for two hourslately, recently and many more will fit into your present perfect continuous sentence

                     e.g.  How have you been feeling lately?
How've you been feeling lately?

Here are some examples of present perfect continuous from our students' writing:

I know I could do better if I tried harder...I'm getting lazier.  I have been losing my enthusiasm as I grow older.  (Lately) I've been giving up easily and I haven't been able to stick to anything I do.

If you have any questions about this lesson, or if you have been following the tennis matches of the USOpen on TV (this month), please email me your questions and comments!

So from the ESL Help Desk, thanks for listening to us this week, and remember to email us your questions about English grammar by sending us a comment on our blog.


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Portions excerpted from " The Grammar HELP! Student Handbook", published by Llumina Press