What Is The Present Perfect Continuous Tense?

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Dan

Are your students having trouble expressing their thoughts in the present perfect continuous tense? Are you looking for a way to help them master this complicated grammatical structure? Look no further!

We have created this helpful blog post to provide teachers with an easy-to-understand overview of the present perfect continuous tense, featuring strategies and activities to ensure your students can quickly become confident users of it.

Please keep reading to explore how this unique verb form works in English so you can effectively teach it!

Related: For more, check out our article on The Future Perfect Tense  here.

The Present Perfect Continuous Tense

The Present Perfect Continuous Tense is often used to talk about an action or situation that began in the past and has continued until now. It may or may not still be continuing.

This tense expresses the idea of something that has gone on for some time and emphasises the process or duration of something instead of just the result.

The structure of the present perfect continuous is composed of two parts: “have/has been” plus a present participle (“-ing”). For example, “She has been learning Spanish for two years”.

In this sentence, the verb phrase “has been learning” expresses an ongoing action in the past that continues into the present.

How does this tense differ from the Present Perfect Tense?

The Present Perfect Tense is used to talk about a completed action that happened at an unspecified time in the past and has an effect on the present. For example, “I have seen that film”.

In this sentence, the verb phrase “have seen” expresses a completed action or situation that happened at some point in the past, but it does not specify when.

The Present Perfect Continuous Tense is used to talk about an ongoing action or situation that began in the past and has continued until now. This tense emphasises long-term continuing efforts and their effects more than their current state or results.

For example: “She has been learning Spanish for two years” vs “She has learned Spanish for two years”. The former emphasises what she had done over a long period (in this case, learning Spanish), whereas the latter states that she had known Spanish for two years but did not indicate when it was done.

Examples & Comparisons

  • She has been learning Spanish for two years. (She isn’t necessarily learning it now; she has learned it over time.)
  • He has been working on that project since last week. (He may or may not be still working on it, but he started some time ago, and his work continued until now.)
  • We have been studying for our final exam for months. (We aren’t done yet with the exam, but we have put in effort over a sustained period.)
  • They have been reading that book since yesterday morning. (It is not necessarily finished yet, but they began and kept reading throughout the day until now.)
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How to Teach Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Teaching the Present Perfect Continuous Tense can be a challenge for both teachers and students alike. Students must understand how this tense differs from the Present Perfect Tense, which focuses more on completed actions.

One way to teach the Present Perfect Continuous Tense is through engaging activities and games.

For example, have students create pictograms that illustrate an ongoing action in the present perfect continuous to help them visualise the concept.

You could also give them sentences where they must fill in the blanks with the present perfect or present perfect continuous verb forms.

This will allow them to practice their grammar skills while recognising when a particular verb form should be used in a sentence.

You can also use real-life examples to explain how this tense is used in everyday situations. For example, suppose someone has lived in a foreign country for five years.

In that case, you can explain how “living” expresses an ongoing situation that has been happening for a long time—thus using the present perfect continuous tense instead of just saying “lived”, which would imply a single completed action at some point in the past.

By providing plenty of practice with different scenarios and examples and emphasising how this tense differs from other tenses, like the Present Perfect Tense, you will help your students get comfortable with using this tense correctly!

Lesson Plan for Teaching the Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Learning Objectives:

  • Students can identify when to use the Present Perfect Continuous Tense.
  • Students will be able to write sentences correctly using this tense.
  • Students can use real-life examples to explain how the Present Perfect Continuous Tense is used in everyday situations.

Introduction:

Begin the lesson by reviewing what students already know about the Present Perfect Tense and how it differs from the Present Perfect Continuous Tense, emphasising that it describes ongoing actions that started in the past and continue into the present.

Main Teaching Points:

  • Have students create pictograms illustrating an ongoing action in the present perfect continuous tense to help them visualise the concept.
  • Give students sentences where they must fill in the blanks with the present perfect or present perfect continuous verb forms. This will allow them to practice their grammar skills while recognising when a particular verb form should be used in a sentence.

Use real-life examples to explain how this tense is used in everyday situations. For example, suppose someone has lived in a foreign country for five years.

In that case, you can explain how “living” expresses an ongoing situation that has been happening for an extended period—thus using the present perfect continuous tense instead of just saying “lived”, which would imply a single completed action at some point in the past.

Reflection:

Ask your students questions such as “When do we use Present Perfect Continuous Tense?” or “What other ways we can use this verb form?”. This allows them to reflect on what they have learned and ensures understanding of concepts presented throughout the lesson plan.

Key Questions:

  • What does it mean when we use Present Perfect Continuous Tense?
  • How does this verb form differ from others, such as Present Perfect?
  • When do we use real-life examples to demonstrate proper usage?

FAQ

Q: What is the Present Perfect Continuous Tense?

A: The Present Perfect Continuous Tense (also known as Present Progressive) expresses ongoing actions that began in the past and continue into the present.

Q: When do we use this tense?

A: You use this verb form when describing an action that has started in the past and continues into the present, such as “I have been living in Spain for five years”.

Q: How is this different from other verb forms like the Present Perfect?

A: The difference between these two tenses lies in their focus. The Present Perfect focuses on a completed action, while the Present Perfect Continuous focuses on an ongoing effort.

For example, if you say, “I have lived in Spain for five years”, it implies that you are no longer living there, whereas saying, “I have been living in Spain for five years,” means that you are still living there now.

Q: Can I do any activities or exercises to help my students understand this verb form?

A: Yes! You can use activities and games to help your students practice and understand how to use this tense correctly. For example, create pictograms that illustrate an ongoing action using the present perfect continuous form or give them sentences where they must fill in the blanks with the present perfect or present perfect continuous verb forms.

This will allow them to practice their grammar skills while recognising when a particular verb form should be used in a sentence.

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