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Present Perfect Progressive

The Present Perfect Progressive Tense indicates a continuous action that has been finished at some point in the past or that was initiated in the past and continues to happen. The action is usually of limited duration and has some current relevance: "She has been running and her heart is still beating fast." The term should not be confused with the present perfect tense, an entirely different verb tense.

Describing ongoing actions starting in the past

The present perfect progressive calls specific attention to the fact that the action in question has been happening over time. A common way of using it is to point out how long a specific action has been going on. 

The present perfect progressive is formed by combining the helping verb phrase "has/have been" with the present participle of the verb in question. 

using the present perfect progressive tense in a sentence

Here is an example of the present perfect progressive being used correctly within a sentence. 

"The man looks up at the clock, and he realizes that he has been working on his project for eight hours straight." 

 In this sentence, the phrase "has been working" is a correct use of the present perfect progressive. 

Now, here is an example of the incorrect use of the present perfect progressive. 

"Yesterday, he has been riding his bike for four hours; and that is why his body feels so tired this morning." 

In this sentence, "has been" should be replaced by either "had been" or just "was", since it is talking about an action that ended in the past. 

In case you're still a little unclear about how to use the present perfect progressive, here are a couple rules you can follow. 

  1. The present perfect progressive is always used to talk about an action that began in the past and still going on in the present (or has just ended as the speaker is making his statement). If the action both began and ended in the past, then you would instead use the past perfect progressive. The present perfect progressive thus has a very specific context of use. 
  2. Like all progressive tenses, the present perfect progressive calls attention to the duration of the action itself. That is, it emphasizes the fact that the action has in fact been going on over time. If you do not want to emphasize this, then you could instead use some other tense, such as the present perfect, to express a similar meaning. 

Present perfect progressive used to describe ongoing activity

The present perfect progressive is essentially just like all the other progressive tenses. The main difference is that it is used specifically to actions that reach from the past all the way into the present. This is relatively unusual for a verb tense: most are confined exclusively to just the past, the present, or the future.

For example, the present progressive talks about just the present, and the past perfect progressive talks about only the past. But the present perfect progressive bridges the past and the present.

Moreover (and again), the present perfect progressive specifically calls attention to the fact that an action is spanning time in this way. For example, if you say that someone has been talking for four hours, then the fact of this duration is one of the main things you want to point out with your statement.

This is in the nature of all progressive tenses: they call attention to the experiential fact of an action persisting across time. If you do not want this emphasis, then you would probably also want to avoid the use of the present perfect progressive. 

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