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Unit 8 The Present Perfect Continuous Tense


This tense is formed by the present perfect of the verb to be + the present participle:

Affirmative: I have been working, he has been working etc.

Negative: I have not/haven't been working etc.

Interrogative: have I been working? etc.

Negative interrogative: have I not/haven't I been working?


Main uses


1To talk about actions, which started in the past and are still going on

(generally with since, for, these two days, all morningetc.):

I 've bееn waiting for аn hоur.

The competition has been running every year since 1980.


Present perfect continuous is not used in the negative form:

I haven’t watered the flowers since Monday.

The Present Perfect Continuous is also found in negative sentences if the negation is partial: it does not refer to the action itself but to the circumstances attending the action.

I haven’t been sleeping well for the last two days (which means that I have been sleeping but my sleep has not been sound enough)

I’m sorry I’m late. I hope уоu have nоt bееn waiting for mе. (I know that you have bееn waiting but I hope it is not for mе)


2 To express an action (quite a long action) which began in the past and has recently or just stopped, a recently finished activity, which explains or gives reasons for the state of things at the present:

You are out of breath. Have you been running?

Why are your clothes so dirty? What have you been doing?

She said: "I've been talking to your boy-friend, Adeline, and I like him."

Don't tell your mother what I've been saying.


3 The perfect progressive forms are often used to show that an action is (or was) frequently repeated:

Tom has been drinking a lot for the last two months.

Jim has been phoning Jenny every night for the past week


4 To refer to an uncompleted activity:

I’ve been cleaning the house but I still haven’t finished.

The difference between an activity still in progress and one that has definitely been completed is marked by context and by the verbs we use.

The simple and progressive forms arenot interchangeable here

I've been painting this room

I've painted this room

In the first example, the activity is uncompleted. In the second example, the job is definitely finished.


5The present perfect continuous is often used with an emotional coloring (emphasizing the duration of the event):

I suppose you have been telling lies again.


A number of verbs can't normally bе used in thе continuous tense forms, but some оf these саn bе used in this form in certain cases (in colloquial English); especially the verbs to want and to wish.


6The present perfect continuous can suggest that the action is temporary:


We’ve been subscribing to one of the satellite TV companies (we may change)

We subscribe to one of the satellite TV companies (unlikely to change)

With lately orrecently we use the present perfect continuous to talk about new developments which may be temporary:

Helen has been spending a lot of time at the club lately (she didn’t use to)




Ex. 48 Explain the use of the Present Perfect Continuous in the following sentences:

1. "I must say, William, you're looking distinctly pale, you know." "Am I?" "I fear you've been overworking yourself lately. You don't get out of doors enough." 2. You bet I'm burning myself out. I've been doing it for so many years now — and who cares? 3. Your wife's been telling me that you've not been sleeping very well lately. I'm sorry to hear that. 4. "Mother, what do you suppose you look like?" "Oh, I know. But I've been cleaning the stairs." 5. Rosemary, I've been thinking. What we need is something different. 6. "I was the only boy in our school that had asthma," said the fat boy with a touch of pride. "And I've been wearing specs since I was three." 7.I don't want anyone to know I've been crying. 8. Oh, I am not really hot. It's just that I've been running. 9. Oh, dear, has the baby been howling ever since we left? 10. "Oh, it's grand to have you home again," he said. "I've been saving up things to tell you but now they've gone right out of my head and I can only be glad."


Ex. 49 Put the verbs in brackets into the present perfect continuous tense:

1 I (make) cakes. That is why my hands are all covered with flour. 2 Her phone (ring) for ten minutes. I wonder why she doesn't answer it. 3 He (overwork). That is why he looks so tired. 4 There is sawdust in your hair. - I'm not surprised. I (cut) down a tree. 5 Have you seen my bag anywhere? I (look) for it for ages. 6 What you (do)? - I (work) in the laboratory. 7 He (study) Russian for two years and doesn't even know the alphabet yet. 8 How long you (wait) for me? - I (wait) about half an hour. 9 It (rain) for two days now. There'11 be a flood soon. 10 We (argue) about this for two hours now. Perhaps we should stop 11 I (bathe). That's why my hair is all wet. 12 You (drive) all day. Let me drive now. 13 How long you (wear) glasses? 14 The petrol gauge (say) 'Empty' for quite a long time now. Don't think we should get some petrol? 15 I'm sorry for keeping you waiting. I (try) to make a telephone call Rome. 16 You (not eat) enough lately. That's why you feel irritable. 17 He (speak) for an hour now. I expect he'll soon be finished. 18 That helicopter (fly) round the house for the last hour; do you think it's taking photographs? 19 The radio (play) since 7 a.m. I wish someone would turn it off. 20 I (shop) all day and I haven't a penny left. 21 We (live) here since 1977. 22 I'm on a diet. I (eat) nothing but bananas for the last month. 23 The children (look) forward to this holiday for months. 24 That pipe (leak) for ages. We must get it mended. 25 Tom (dig) in the garden all afternoon and I (help) him. 26 I (ask) you to mend that window for six weeks. When are you going to do it? 27 Someone (use) my bicycle. The chain's fallen off. 28 How long you (drive)? - I (drive) for ten years. 29 The trial (go) on for a long time. I wonder what the verdict will be. 30 It (snow) for three days now. The roads will be blocked if it doesn't stop soon. 31 Mary (cry)? - No, she (not cry), she (peel) onions. 32 The car (make) a very curious noise ever since it ran out of oil. 33 He walked very unsteadily up the stairs and his wife said, 'You (drink)!' 34 Your fingers are very brown. You (smoke) too much. 35 You usually know when someone (eat) garlic. 36 Ever since he came to us that man (try) to make trouble.


Ex. 50 Use the Present Continuous or the Present Perfect Continuous in the following sentences:

1. "There's a man sitting at the first table near the door. He (to look) at us," she said. "He is, but what of it?" "I (to meet) him everywhere of late." 2. Ever since my University days I (to study) the history of Russia. Now I (to read) books on the Civil War. 3.1 know you (to ask) for somebody with experience on your staff. There is a doctor in our laboratory who might interest you. But he now (to finish) an experiment. 4. "I (to visit) with friends." "How long you (to stay) with your friends?" 5. The door was opened by Mrs Pitt. "Well, well, you're just in time. I (to make) some cakes. And your father (to have) break fast." 6. "Where's my daughter?" "She (to talk) to a policemen." "What's happened?" "She (to drive) without a license." 7. "I hope you (to do) well?" "Splendid. I was very sorry that you left us. We (to do) better ever since." 8. "Hello," she said. "I'm glad you (to have) lunch here. I (to want) to talk to you." 9. "We (to stay) here nearly a week." "I hope you (not to think) of leaving." 10. "The girl (to wait) to see you, doctor." "How long she (to wait)?"


Ex. 51 Make up situations to justify the use of the Present Continuous and the Present Perfect Continuous in the following pairs of sentences:

1. We're having a good laugh over everything. We've been having a good laugh over everything. 2. I'm doing it just this way. I've been doing it just this way. 3. What is going on in here? What has been going on in here? 4. He is saying funny things about you. He has been saying funny things about you. 5. What are you doing? What have you been doing? 6. I'm wondering if you just dislike me. I've been wondering if you just dislike me. 7. She is accusing me of things. She has been accusing me of things. 8. He is behaving very well. He has been behaving very well.

Ex. 52 Say what has just been happening to cause the state of things expressed in the following sentences:

1. His clothes are wet. (to walk in the rain) 2. You look upset, (to say dreadful things about ...) 3. I'm so glad to be able to talk to someone. (to have a very dull time) 4. Why do you think I ought to give up my work? (to talk to the doctor) 5. You look excited. (to try to talk someone out of doing something) 6. He is very tired. (to overwork) 7. The streets are wet. (to rain) 8.I can't write a loving letter now. (to write too many official papers) 9. The air in the room is hazy. (to smoke a great deal)


Ex. 53 Fill the spaces in the following sentences by using for or since:

1 We’ve been fishing . . . two hours. 2 I’ve been working in this office . . . a month. 3 They’ve been living in France . . . 1970. 4 He has been in prison . . . a year. 5 I’ve known that . . . a long time. 6 That man has been standing there . . . six o’clock. 7 She has driven the same car . . . 1975. 8 Things have changed . . . I was a girl. 9 The kettle has been boiling . . . a quarter of an hour. 10 The central heating has been on . . . October.
11 That trunk has been in the hall . . . a year. 12 He has been very ill . . . the last month. 13 I’ve been using this machine . . . twelve years. 14 We’ve been waiting . . . half an hour. 15 Mr Pitt has been in hospital . . . his accident. 16 He hasn’t spoken to me . . . the last committee meeting. 17 I have been very patient with you . . . several years. 18 They have been on strike . . . November. 19 The strike has lasted . . . six months. 20 It has been very foggy . . . early morning. 21 They have been quarrelling ever . . . they got married. 22 I’ve been awake . . . four o’clock. 23 I’ve been awake . . . a long time. 24 We’ve had no gas . . . the strike began. 25 I’ve earned my own living . . . I left school. 26 Nobody has seen him . . . last week. 27 The police have been looking for me . . . four days. 28 I haven’t worn low-heeled shoes . . . I was at school. 29 He had a bad fall last week and . . . then he hasn’t left the house. 30 He has been under water . . . half an hour. 31 That tree has been there . . . 2,000 years. 32 He has been Minister of Education . . . 1983. 33 I’ve been trying to open this door . . . forty-five minutes. 34 He hasn’t eaten anything . . . twenty-four hours. 35 We’ve had terrible weather . . . the last month. 36 Nobody has come to see us . . . we bought these bloodhounds.


Ex. 54 The present perfect with for and since:

Part I Answer the following questions as shown in the examples:

Can you skate? (three years) Yes, but I haven't skated for three years.

Could you climb a rope? (I left school) Yes, I suppose I could, but I haven't climbed one since I left school.

1 Can you play chess? (ten years) 2 Can you sing? (I came to England) 3 Could you milk a cow? (I left my father's farm) 4 Can you put up a tent? (I went camping two years ago) 5 Can you make Yorkshire pudding? (over a year) 6 Can you read Latin? (I left school) 7 Could you bath a baby? (fifteen years) 8 Could you repair a radio? (I left the army) 9 Can you ski? (my last holiday) 10 Can you read a map? (quite a long time)

11 Could you make a basket? (I was in hospital) 12 Can you sew on buttons? (I got married) 13 Can you drive a car? (over six months) 14 Could you take someone's temperature? (years) 15 Can you ride a motor cycle? (I was at the university) 16 Can you row a boat? (1977) 17 Can you paint in oils? (some time) 18 Can you type? (years and years)


Part 2 Rephrase the following sentences, using the present perfect tense with for or since:

I last read a newspaper on June - I haven't read a newspaper since June.

It is two years since I saw Tom. - I haven't seen Tom for two years.

19 It's two years since I had a puncture. 20 It's two months since he earned any money. 21 He last shaved the day before yesterday. 22 I last drank champagne at my brother's wedding. 23 It's two years since I was last in Rome. 24 I saw Tom last on his wedding day. 25 I last ate raw fish when I was in Japan. 26 It's years since Mary last spoke French. 27 It's ten weeks since I last had a good night's sleep. 28 He last paid taxes in 1970. 29 I last ate meat five years ago. (Omit ago.) 30 It's three months since the windows were cleaned. 31 It's years since I took any photographs. 32 I last watched TV on New Year's Day. 33 It's three months since he wrote to me. 34 I was last paid six months ago. (My pay is six months in arrears.) 35 The last time I was abroad was in the summer of 1978. 36 It's ten years since that house was lived in.


Ex. 55 Translate the following into English concentrating on the use of Present Perfect Continuous:

1. Когда они остались одни, она спросила: «Что здесь проис ходило?» 2. «А что, если я попрошу Филиппа одолжить мне денег?» — «Попробуй. Он только что с рыбалки. Это подходящий момент». 3. «Какие у тебя холодные руки, Мэри!»— «Да, я сидела у окна и проверяла тетради». 4. «А вот ты где, Том! А я все искал тебя. Там какой-то молодой человек хочет видеть тебя». 5. При строгих родителях и двух старших братьях я всегда только и слышал, как кто-нибудь говорил мне: «Филипп, тебе должно быть стыдно». 6. «Извини, что я опоздал, мама. Мне нужно было поехать в город, и я попал под дождь и промок насквозь. Я переодевался». 7. «Эй! А где же все?» — «Я сейчас спущусь, — откликнулась Долли. — Я закрывала окна». 8. Он поблагодарил сестру за подарок и сказал: «Это как раз то, что мне нужно. Все мое шерстяное белье съела моль».



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