The present perfect continuous tense is made up of the present perfect tense of the verb to behave been or has been and the present participle of the main verb (verb + ing)


The Present Perfect Continuous is


used for an action that began in the past and is still continuing.



  • Cecilia and I have been talking about getting married.
  • They have been trying to contact her.
  • Your dogs have been barking since early this morning.




used for an action that began and just finished in the past.



  • Thank Heaven, you have arrived. We have been waiting for you.  
  • Why are my hands so dirty? I have been repairing the car.
  • have been calling you and I got no reply. 




used without mention of time



  • They have been having a lot of difficulties with their new computer system. (describes a difficult situation that is not over.)

  • This is the game they have been playing for years.

  • A party of volunteers has been looking for her missing grandmother.    




used with all (all day, all evening, all week) to indicate duration of an activity, and adverbs such as lately, etc.  



  • The family has been spending all day looking for the cat.
  • The party has been going on all night.
  • have been feeling ill all week. 
  • She has been grumbling lately




Present perfect continuous tense in questions.



  • How long have you been growing your really long beard?
  • How much money have you been borrowing from your grandmother?
  • Have you been riding my new bicycle while I was away? 



Statement: subject + have/has + past participle  
  They   have   been gambling.
  He   has   been lying to us.
Question form: have/has   subject   past participle  
  Have   they   been gambling?
  Has   he   been lying to us?




Present perfect continuous and present perfect tenses.
The present perfect continuous and the present perfect tenses do not differ much in meaning.


  • He has been selling pencils for two years.
  • He has sold pencils for two years.
  • We have been telling the children about their table manners.
  • We have told the children about their table manners.





The present perfect continuous and the present perfect tenses are used in the same way with forsinceever since, etc.



  • Grandpa has been playing hide-and-seek with the grandchildren for hours.
  • Grandpa has played hide-and-seek with the grandchildren for hours.
  • have been looking for the missing piece of the jigsaw since ten o'clock.
  • have looked for the missing piece of the jigsaw since ten o'clock.
  • He has been living with this woman ever since his wife died.
  • He has lived with this woman ever since his wife died.




Verbs not used with present perfect continuous
There are verbs that cannot be used with the present perfect continuous tense: believe, decide, hate, know, recognize, want, etc. Use the present perfect tense instead.



  • No: Julia has been deciding to buy a big teddy bear.
  • Yes: Julia has decided to buy a big teddy  bear. 
  • No: She has been hating cockroaches since she was a small girl.
  • Yes: She has hated cockroaches since she was a small girl.
  • No: His parents and mine have been wanting to practise yoga together.
  • Yes: His parents and mine have wanted to practise yoga together.