English Grammar Guide

Present Perfect Continuous

The present perfect continuous tense is often, but not exclusively, used to speak about actions which finished very recently or which are still in progress.

Construction and use

The present perfect continuous is formed by using the auxiliary 'Have' + 'Been' and a verb present participle (gerund).

The present perfect continuous is normally used:

  • To emphasize the continuation of a single action

  • To speak about an action which has finished very recently

  • To complain about the repeated nature of an action


  • I have been painting the kitchen.   (The action was started in the past and is not finished)

  • The children have been arguing all afternoon!

  • I need a shower. I've been jogging in the park all afternoon.  (I finished jogging a short time ago)

  • I have been trying to phone you all afternoon.    (I have called your phone several times)

In most cases, the present perfect continuous is used to talk about a continued action and suggests that the action is not finished, unlike present perfect simple. However, two verbs; 'To live' and 'To work' may be used in either present perfect simple or continuous forms without any change in meaning.

  • I have been living here for 4 years = I have lived here for 4 years