Present Perfect Continuous 2

Part 2 of 3

Action has stopped – or not?

Note: The monster is talking!

As we can see in the image, the focus is on the action.  The action does NOT continue. The action has finished.

 

If you see people saying “I’ve been waiting for ages”, the action continues!

Wait wut? I thought you said the action was finished? Well, it is, UNLESS you add for/since.


+ For / Since

How can we express that an action continues in the present?

I am studying this crap

How can we express that an action continues in the present after a specific period of time?

I am studying this crap for 20 mins

Incorrect. This means the studying is planned to continue for 20 mins from now.

I was studying this crap for 20 mins.

Incorrect- this expresses that the action was continuing in the past for 20 minutes but is finished now.

I studied this crap for 20 mins.

Incorrect- this action occurred for 20 mins in the past.

I have studied this crap for 20 mins.

Incorrect- same as above + consequence on the present. The action has ended.

I have been studying this crap for 20 mins.

Correct! The action took 20 minutes and continues in the present.

Rule

For + duration

Since + time/date/event in the past

= action with consequence continues in the present

I have been + ing +

… since 3pm

… since you arrived

… since Jan 20th, 2010

… for five years

… for a long time

… for several hours

… for ages

… forever……


Context is king

Sometimes it just isn’t clear that the action has stopped, or will continue,  and the speaker may or may not be doing the action right now.

I’ve been watching a series.

I’ve been reading a book.

I’ve been working on a project.

I’ve been modding my stick.

In these kinds of situations, if the speaker doesn’t precise with “For/Since” we really have to guess if the action has finished or not.

Action vs Result… appropriate?

In some situations, the focus on the action is more appropriate than the result:

Have you been catching any fish? = It’s grammatically correct but not usually appropriate.

Have you caught any fish? = We want to know the result – the amount of fish is more appropriate.

Usually:

how long + ppc

How much/ many + pp

Usual: How much money have you spent?

Unusual: How much money have you been spending?

The negative

X: I have eaten since breakfast

Not a good sentence. The action has stopped. It started at breakfast. Usually we use continuous + since or for unless the verb is an exception.

O: I have eaten

O: I haven’t eaten since breakfast

 


 Summary

Use ppc + for or since to show the action is continuing or will continue in the future. Context will explain if it is happening right now or not.

Use pp + for to show a period up to you.

Use pp in the negative + since to show a period from a date up to now.

Now go to Part 3

 

Fairy Tail Image source