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Unit 9 Тhе difference between the Present Perfect

Continuous and the Present Perfect


1 The Present Perfect Continuous describes the action as а continuous, extended activity, whereas the Present Perfect looks more at the idea of completionandpresent result.

The continuous form does not tell us whether the action is finished or not. Although the person speaking may not be performing the action at the time of speaking, they may be going to continue doing it after speaking - the activity is not 'complete'.

Sorry аbоut the mess -I've bееn painting the hоusе. (focus оn continuous activity)

I 've painted two rooms since lunchtime. (focus оn result).

I think she has slept епоиgh. -Гll wake her ир. (focus оn result)

The simple form refers to a more or less 'direct' result, while with the continuous form the result is usually 'indirect', or a 'side-effect'.

I've washed the car. (It's very clean now.)I've been washing the car. (That's why I'm wet.) The continuous form is often used to answer 'Why...?' questions - in the above example, it might have been in response to the question 'Why are you wet?'.

When 'just' is used the result referred to is often indirect, and this form can be used if you want to make it clear that the action is complete while at the same time explaining an indirect result of the action:

I've just washed the car, which is why I'm wet.


2 We often prefer the Present Perfect Continuous to talk about more temporary actions аnd situations; when we talk about longer-lasting or permanent situations we often prefer the Ргеsеnt Perfect:

Тhat man has bееn standing оп the corner the whole day.

For 900 years the castle has stood оп the hill above the village

A common situation where the continuous form is used is to imply that the situation is about to change:

Permanent situation: People have eaten less meat over the last 20 years

Temporary situation: People have been eating less meat recently because of the crisis.

I've been living here for ten years. I think it's time I moved on.

Note that the normal restrictions apply to verbs that don't take continuous forms:

I've had this car since 1987. It's time I changed it.


3 If we mention a number of times the activity or event was repeated, or the number of things that have been done we use the Present Perfect rather than the Present Perfect Continuous:


I've been writing letters since breakfast.

I've written six letters since breakfast.


4 When we want to emphasize that a situation has changed over a period of time up to now and may continue to change, we prefer the present perfect continuous to the present perfect:

The pollution problem has been getting worse over the last decade.

But if we talk about some specific change over а period of time, which ends now, to focus оn the result of the change, we use the Present Perfect: Prices have decreased bу 7%.


5 With some verbs naturally suggesting the idea of continuity (durative verbs) like expect, hope, learn, lie, live, look, rain, sleep, sit, snow, stand, stay, study, teach, travel, play wait, want, work etc. both the Present Perfect Соntinuous and the Present Perfect саn bе used with а slight difference in meaning:

How long have you learnt English?

How long have you been learning English

I've worked here for five years.I've been working here for five years.

The first form here can be considered the 'neutral', or normal, form. The sentence simply says how long this (your having the job, learning English) has been the case.

The second sentence, in the continuous form, would be used in slightly different situations. For example:

Jane : You put those papers in the green filing cabinet.Alan: You don't have to tell me that. - I've been working here for five years, you know!


6 The Present Perfect is used with the stative verbs and in negative sentences instead of the present perfect continuous with since and for to say how long something has been happening:

I 've loved her since she was а child.



Ex. 56 Explain why Present Perfect and not the Present Perfect Continuous is used in the following sentences:

l. Then about a year ago he disappeared and I've never heard from him since. 2. "Good evening, Mrs Elliot, you look blooming tonight." "Oh, not really, I haven't had a minute since I came in." 3. He's made nothing but trouble for years. 4. He hasn't been seen for a week. He is said to be on holidays. 5.I don't think he's changed in the thirty years I've known him. 6. I'm going to eat something. I haven't had anything since last night. 7. They heard a step behind them and turning saw Wilmott coming up to them. "Here I am!" he said. "Have you waited long?" 8. Meg said: "We haven't had lessons lately. It's too hot." 9. This is the happiest evening I've had in a long while. 10. "You are late for tea, Philip," she said. "No, I'm not late, Mumma," he returned. "I've been in for some time."


Ex. 57 Use the Present Perfect Continuous or Present Perfect in the following sentences:

1. I (to be) busy since we last met. 2. I'm very fond of Alice but I (not to see) much of her lately. 3. "How quickly your mood changes! You look drained." "I (to walk) around all day. I (to have) a few drinks and nothing to eat." 4. But I (to cook, to clean) and (to dig) for three days and I'm tired. 5. "I don't think your mother expects you to become an electrician." "What she (to say) to you?" "Nothing." 6. Imagine how much they (to learn) since they (to be) here. 7. "Shall we sit down or do you prefer to stand?" "I (to sit) down in my office, so I am quite happy to stand." 8.I found him waiting downstairs at the house door to let me in. "I'm sorry," I said, "I hope you (not to stand) here long." 9. There (to be) no guests at all since I left? 10. The other chap is a man who threw up his job ten years ago and he (not to work) since. 11. "My son is not a bad boy. But he's going through a difficult phase."" "He (to go) through this difficult phase for fifteen years." 12. He's an old friend. I (to know) him for ages. 13. You (to see) anything of Mary lately? 14.Do you know of any good books coming out soon? I (not to read) anything amusing for ages. 15.I know the names of everyone in the village. I (to live) here all my life. 16. "What do you suppose was wrong with the pony that he should go into the ditch?" asked Meg. "He (to go) into the ditch ever since I (to know) him," said the doctor, "and I (to know) him twenty-five years." 17.Winifred has got a young man she (to have) dates with for ages and she won't tell me anything about him.


Ex. 58 Translate the following into English concentrating on the use of the Present Perfect and the Present Perfect Continuous:

1. Мы с вашим братом говорили сегодня об этом деле. Поэтому я и пришел повидаться с вами. 2. «Я все думал об этой книге, — сказал он, — и пришел к заключению, что мы не можем ее напечатать». 3. «Грузовик все еще там?» — «Да. Они уже два часа работают, пытаются сдвинуть его. Но им это еще не удалось». 4. «Что ты делала, Пэт? Ты вся в земле». 5. «Ну, ты ведь слышала о Молли, да?» — «Я слышу о ней уже два года». 6. «Последнее время я замечаю в тебе какие-то изменения». 7. «Ну как ты?» — «Немного устала. Я весь день скребла стены». 8. Мальчишке нужна порка. Он уже много месяцев напрашивается на нее. 9. «Том и я, — сказала она весело, входя в комнату, — так хорошо провели время. Мы смотрели альбомы». 10. «Я очень доволен тем местом, которое выбрал. Я буду питаться ягодами и рыбой и читать все те книги, которые я давно хотел прочитать». — «А где вы возьмете их?» — «Я привез их с собой». 11. «Эта больница оказалась очень хорошей для изучения языков, — сказала девушка. — С тех пор как я здесь, я говорю по-французски с двумя докторами и по-немецки с нянями, и я набралась порядочно испанского от одного пациента. Для занятий музыкой тоже. Я практикуюсь каждый день. А последние несколько месяцев я занимаюсь на курсах по истории музыки».


Ex. 59 Put the verbs in brackets into the present perfect simple or present perfect continuous:

Tim Bryant, a magazine journalist, is interviewing Margaret Rodwell, the founder of a successful company.

TB: So why do you think your company l.has been, (be) so successful?

MR: Well, our products 2.......... (fill) a large gap in the market and I think one of the most important things is that we 3................ (always listen) to our clients and we 4.......... (act) on their comments and suggestions.

TB: And what's a typical day for you?

MR: Well, take today for example. I 5............(interview) candidates for a marketing executive post.

TB: And how many 6................ (you/interview)?

MR: Er, I 7.............. (interview) four so far. And I 8................... (talk) to clients on the phone on and off all day. I seem to spend a lot of time on the phone. I 9.......... (discuss) some new ideas with them for the transportation and delivery of our products.

TB: Mm, it sounds like a very busy day.

MR: Oh, that's only part of it. I 10.................. (have) two meetings, one with Union representatives and one with departmental heads. And I "11 ................. (also work) on a proposal for a new marketing strategy.

TB: And it's not two o'clock yet!

MR: No, but of course I 12....................(be) here since seven o'clock this morning.

TB: Gosh. And, I hope you don't mind my mentioning this Ms Rodwell, but some rumours 13................ (circulate) about your possible engagement to Mr Grimaldi, the banker.

MR: No, there will be no engagement, though it's true that Mr Grimaldi and I 14....................... (see) each other. That's no secret.

TB: When you get the time, I suppose. And is it also true that you

15........... (learn) Russian with a view to introducing your products there?

MR: Yes, I have, but I 16............... (not learn) much yet; there's still a long way for me to go.


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