You should read about making the present perfect simple before you look at this lesson. After this lesson, test yourself on the present perfect simple and continuous.

Present perfect simple / continuous, meaning until now

I've always loved rats.

We can use the present perfect (simple or continuous) when something started in the past and is still true now.

I've loved rats since I was a child.
- present perfect simple (a state)

I've been playing with this rat for hours.
- present perfect continuous (an action)

We often use these with for, since and how long.

  • I've lived here for three months / for 5 years.
  • I've lived here since 2001 / since Tuesday.
  • How long have you lived here?.

 

How to make the present perfect continuous

We make the present continuous using have + been + verb-ing

I / You / We / They
+ Positive You've been waiting for hours.
- Negative You haven't been waiting long.
? Question How long have you been waiting?
He / She / It
+ Positive He's been waiting for hours.
- Negative He hasn't been waiting long.
? Question How long has he been waiting?

Present Perfect Simple or Continuous?

If something started in the past and continues until now, we usually use present perfect simple with state verbs (e.g. like, have, believe), and usually use present perfect continuous with action verbs (e.g. go, eat, play). 

He's had a beard since he was 18.
(present perfect simple - a state)

He's been sleeping for hours.
(present perfect continuous - an action)

Some verbs (live, work and feel) can be used as simple or continuous here without much difference in meaning.

We've lived / We've been living here for years.


Present Perfect or Past Simple?

Look at these two examples:

I've been married for 2 years.

was married for 2 years.

The first is present perfect because it is two years until the present (I am married now). The second is past simple because the two years finished in the past (I am not married now).


For or Since?

We use "for" with the length of time (e.g. 2 years, 3 months, 1 minute - it usually includes a number). We use "since" with the starting point (e.g. Tuesday, 2009, I was 5).

I've been working here for six weeks.

I've been working here since I left university.


When you are ready, test yourself on the present perfect simple and continuous.