Present Perfect Continuous Grammar Guide (w/ Audio and PDF)

This post will teach you Present Perfect Continuous grammar step by step. Learn with charts, images, and lots of natural examples. You will also find some audio/video clips in this post so you can review this grammar while you improve your English listening skills.

The present perfect continuous (also known as the present perfect progressive) is have/has + been + the continuous tense of a verb. (Continuous tense is verb ~ing.) This verb tense has a connection to events happening now. “I’ve been studying all night.”

Enjoy this grammar resource and be sure to download the free 17-page Present Perfect Continuous grammar PDF so you can study and review anytime offline.

What Is Present Perfect Continuous English Grammar?

Present perfect continuous English grammar is sometimes called the present perfect progressive. 

It uses the verb HAVE/HAS plus BEEN (the past participle of TO BE) followed by a verb in its continuous (progressive) form VERB+ING.

I/we/they/you have
he/she/it has
beenwaiting
studying
raining

This grammar pattern talks about a past action that still continues. It’s connected to what is happening now. 

  • We have been waiting for 15 minutes. (We are still waiting.)
  • Kelly is tired. She has been studying all afternoon. (She is tired now.) 
  • It has been raining since yesterday. 

We can also use the present perfect continuous tense to talk about an activity that has stopped recently.

  • I have been looking for a new piano teacher since October. I finally found one. 

(The act of looking has just stopped. A new teacher has been found.)

Present Perfect Continuous With Adverbs Of Time (Examples)

The present perfect continuous references how long an activity has been happening. We often use it with adverbs and expressions of time.

  • for  
  • since 
  • all day/morning/afternoon/night 
  • recently
  • long 
  • forever
  • much 

We often use the Present Perfect Continuous with since and for to talk about how long something has been happening.

  • He has been working there for 2 years.

  • I have been training in Jiu-Jitsu since I was 22.

  • I have been looking for a new piano teacher since October. I finally found one.

More examples with adverbs of time:

  • I feel like I’ve been working at this company forever.

  • That dog has been standing outside the window all morning.

  • You’ve been driving all afternoon. Let’s pull over so you can take a break.

  • I haven’t been sleeping well recently. I need to cut back on caffeine. 

Present Perfect Continuous (Examples – Audio)

  • My brother works at the movie theater so I get free tickets sometimes. He has been working there for 2 years.

  • I have been training in Jiu-jitsu since I was 22.
He has been doing matial arts for over 25 years.

*Both of these examples talk about an activity that is still happening. My brother still works at the movie theater and I still train in Jiu-Jitsu.

  • I hope our game won’t be canceled today. It’s been raining all week so the field must be very wet. 

*The activity (raining) has recently finished in this example. It’s not raining now but the fact that it has been raining a lot this week has an effect on the condition of the field now. It is wet.

More Examples

  • They have been renovating the school beside my apartment for 5 months. I hope they finish soon, it’s very noisy!

*They started the renovations 5 months ago and they haven’t finished yet. It still continues. (renovations is the noun form of the verb renovate)

renovate verb to repair and paint an old building, a piece of furniture, etc. so that it is in good condition again 

I have been painting my bedroom since June.
  • Have you been watching the baseball playoffs?

  • Heather has been telling everyone at work about her new car. 

  • Getting up early is a great habit. I’ve been waking up at 5:00 AM since November and I love it. I get a lot of work done before most people are even awake!

  • Reid bought a nice bicycle last month. He has been riding it to work every day and he has lost 3 kilograms.

Listen to the audio for these 5 examples

My whole family has been watching the baseball playoffs.

Compare The Present Perfect Tense And Present Perfect Continuous

The present perfect uses the past participle verb tense to talk about a finished action. The present perfect continuous talks about an activity that still continues. Let’s compare two example sentences.

Present Perfect

*This sentence is from my present perfect post.

  • The accident has made everyone more careful when crossing the street.

(MADE is the past participle of the verb TO MAKE)

An accident happened and it has caused people to be more careful. It had an effect on people.
[The accident is the subject of our sentence and it is over now, it does not continue.]

Present Perfect Continuous

  • After the accident, the city put a big sign at the intersection. The sign has been making people more careful.

The sign is causing people to be more careful. It is still having an effect on people.
[The sign is the subject of our sentence and it continues to be seen by people. It continues to have an effect on people.]

This comparison can be confusing because both actions result in people becoming more careful. 

The subjects of our sentences are different and that’s why the grammar is not the same.

An accident happenedIt is finishedpresent perfect
A sign was put upIt continues to be seenpresent perfect continuous

We use present perfect grammar in the first sentence, the accident is finished, and present perfect continuous grammar in the second, the sign continues to be seen. 

Present Perfect Continuous Interrogative (Questions)

  • How long has your brother been working at the movie theater?
  • How long have you been training in Jiu-Jitsu?

These 2 questions both include the question phrase how long and are asking about an amount of time. We can answer with an amount of time (FOR an amount of time) or SINCE a specific time in the past until now.

A: How long has your brother been working at the movie theater?
B: 11 months. (He has been working there FOR 11 months.)

A: How long have you been training Jiu-Jitsu?
B: SINCE I was 21. (I have been training Jiu-Jitsu from the time I was 21 years old until now.)

We can also ask questions using this grammar that start with have or has.

  • Wow Alex you look great! Have you been working out?

This question doesn’t ask about an amount of time. It is asking if Alex has been doing something recently that still continues.

These kinds of questions need a YES or NO answer.

B: Wow Alex you look great! Have you been working out?
A: YES I have, thanks. I joined the gym at my school last month.

Present Perfect Continuous Negative (Examples)

I haven’t been skiing at all this year. It’s too warm.
  • I want to go skiing this weekend but it hasn’t been snowing much this winter. There is not enough snow on the mountains. (Now)

The negative form will use the auxiliary verbs haven’t and hasn’t been.

Lisa: Hi Jeff, sorry I’m late. Thanks for waiting.
Jeff: It’s okay, I haven’t been waiting long.

“I haven’t been working out very often this year. Time to get back to the gym!”

A: “Terry is a good guitar player.”
B: “He has natural talent. He sounds like a pro already and he hasn’t even been playing very long.”
(Learn how to use the adverb EVEN here.)

Contractions of Have, Has, and Is

In spoken English, we use contractions a lot. You will hear these contractions used very often in natural conversation.

Contractions of HAVE and HAS

The verb HAVE is written/spoken as the contraction ‘VE for these subjects.

I haveI’ve
You haveYou’ve
We haveWe’ve
They haveThey’ve

The Third Person Singular of the verb HAVE is HAS.
HAS is written/spoken as the contraction ‘S for the Third Person Singular

He hasHe’s
She hasShe’s
It hasIt’s

The Third Person Singular form of the verb TO BE is IS. The verb IS is written/spoken as the contraction ‘S. (The same as HAS)

He isHe’s
She isShe’s
It isIt’s

Learn more about Third Person English grammar at my helpful blog post here >
Worldenglishblog.com/third-person-singular-grammar

How Do I Know If A Contraction is HAS or IS?

In English the contractions for HE HAS and HE IS are the same. (‘S)

Here is an easy way to tell if the contraction is for HAS or IS. Please look at the following example.

  • A: “How is your brother?”
    B: “He’s busy. He’s been working hard all week.”

= He is busy. He has been working hard all week.

IS Contraction

In English, adjectives will be followed by a form of the verb TO BE.

  • My sister’s tall.
    (My sister is tall. Tall is an adjective.)

*From our example sentence the word busy is an adjective so we know it follows a form of the verb TO BE. The contraction must be IS.

Present continuous tense verbs (that end in ~ing) will also follow a form of the verb TO BE.

  • My sister’s riding the bus right now.
    (My sister is riding the bus right now.)
She’s taking the bus to California.

HAS Contraction

The verb HAS will be followed by the PAST PARTICIPLE form of a verb when it is used with the perfect tense.

  • My sister’s BEEN studying English since Jr. High school.
    (My sister has BEEN studying English since Jr. High school.) *Perfect tense

From our example sentence, the word BEEN is the past participle of the verb TO BE so we know that the contraction must be HAS.

  • I haven’t seen the movie yet but my sister’s SEEN it and she said it was good.
    (I haven’t seen the movie yet but my sister has seen it and she said it was good.) *Perfect tense

Again, the past participle SEEN follows the contraction ‘s, so we know the contraction must be HAS in this sentence.

Subject is (‘s) + ADJECTIVEShe’s tall. – IS
Subject is (‘s) + CONTINUOUS TENSEShe’s riding the bus. – IS
Subject has (‘s) + PAST PARTICIPLEShe’s seen the movie. – HAS

From The News

  • We have been hearing a lot about the Coronavirus this year. (Jan. 2020)

[The world is getting lots of news about the spread of this virus. Since I wrote this post we continue to get news updates.]

  • (At Narita airport) Japan’s immigration workers have been screening visitors who have visited Wuhan China.

[Immigration staff started screening passengers last week, and this action continues until now. *The time of writing this post.] Update 2022 – Everyone must show a negative COVID-19 test before getting on the plane, not only people who visited Wuhan.

screening noun the testing or examining of a large number of people or things for disease, faults, etc.

News update (2022)
She-Hulk Episode 5 Teases the Moment Marvel Fans Have Been Waiting For LINK

Present Perfect Continuous – Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some great questions that I get from my private students. 

1) What’s the difference between Present Perfect Continuous Vs. Continuous Tense?

The present perfect continuous and the continuous tenses are both used to talk about something that is happening now.

Continuous tense only tells us what is happening.

Present Perfect Continuous is used with prepositions and adverbs of time to give us more information. 

Compare

Continuous

  • It is raining. (This is happening now.)

Present Perfect Continuous

  • It has been raining for 4 hours. (This is happening now and we also know that it started 4 hours ago.)
  • It has been raining since 10 a.m.  (This is happening now and we know that it started at 10 a.m.)
It has been raining all weekend.

2) What’s the difference between What are you doing? and What have you been doing?

The question ‘What are you doing?’ is asking about this exact moment. 

Sarah: Hey Jennifer what are you doing?
Jennifer:  Hi Sarah, I’m just watching TV. (This means I’m watching TV right now.)

The question ‘What have you been doing?’ is asking more about things you have been doing lately or recently, not at this exact moment. Here’s a conversation where it’s natural to use this question. 

Sarah: Hey Jennifer, I heard you got a promotion, congratulations. 
Jennifer:  Hi Sarah, Thanks, how about you? What have you been doing recently?

I’ve been busy. I’ve been getting ready for my trip to Hawaii.

Present Perfect Continuous PDF

I made some changes to this blog post so I adjusted this PDF from its original version. Even if you have already downloaded this PDF once, I recommend getting the upgrade.

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