What’s the Difference? Present Perfect | Present Perfect Continuous

Hi there! How has everyone been doing? It’s another beautiful day to answer one of the questions we received from last week’s Tuesday Q&A! We’ll discuss the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous tenses today.

We’ll talk about their differences and their appropriate use. I’ll also give you guys plenty of examples so that by the end of this post, you’ll be confident in using your English tenses naturally!

Alright, let’s get to it!

The Present Perfect Tense

The Present Perfect tense is formed when you combine ‘have’ or ‘has’ and the past participle of the verb.

Here are some quick and clear examples of using the Present Perfect tense:

  • I have lived in Japan.
  • She has eaten breakfast.
  • Gabby and her cousins have visited their grandmother.
  • Emma has watched that movie.

An easy way to remember when to use this English tense is to keep in mind that it is used when talking about experiences. They are not used for habitual actions or activities, but more special ones that you have done maybe once or a couple of times before.

This tense is also used when talking about something that happened in the past that has an impact on the present. So be very careful when using this English tense

Here are some of the wrong ways to use the Present Perfect tense!

  • She has eaten breakfast yesterday.
  • I have seen that tomorrow.
  • Joel has gone home last night.

Instead you can say:

  • She has eaten breakfast. OR She ate breakfast yesterday.
  • I have seen that movie.
  • Joel has gone home.

The Present Perfect Continuous Tense

This is also known as the Present Perfect Progressive tense. And this used for actions or activities that are more habitual. Ongoing activities and constant undertakings are best described by the Present Perfect Continuous Tense.

Here let me show you some examples:

  • I’ve been living in Japan for 5 years.
  • She has been going to the same stylist since she was a teenager.
  • Yogurt has been my favorite ever since I was young.

Maybe you’ve noticed also that these actions also emphasize the duration or that includes the present. Such as “for 5 years”, “since she was a teenager”, and “ever since I was young”.

However, don’t use time pertaining to the past! Don’t say:

  • I have been living in Japan 5 years ago.
  • She has been getting her hair cut yesterday.
  • We have been buying yogurt from the same place last week.

These examples are all wrong. For the Present Perfect Continuous, use time or duration that continues up to the present.

Additional Tip!

Another thing you may also have noticed in some of the examples I have given for both the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous tenses is the contraction of the phrase “I have” into “I’ve”. This can also be “She has” turned into “She’s”. Or “We have” contracted into “We’ve”. This is commonly done by native English speakers. So if you want to sound more natural and like a native English speaker and writer, go ahead and contract your “I have” phrases too!

Ready to Test Your New Skills?

Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple and you will ace this for sure! Just answer the 3 questions I posted below using the Present Perfect or Present Perfect Continuous tenses as applicable.

  1. What have you been up to lately?
  2. How long have you been living in the United States (or wherever your current location is now)?
  3. How long have you been in your present career or job or position?

I can’t wait to read your answers! Please write them in the comments section of this post.

And if you want more grammar lessons in English, here’s one more post that’s as enjoyable as this one we just had!

Have fun learning and practicing your English tenses and other grammar lessons! Until next time!

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