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Present Perfect Simple – Present Perfect Progressive
Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Progressive
'have'/’has’ + past participle of verbs
I / you / we / they have spoken
he / she / it has spoken
'have'/’has’ + been + verb + ing
I / you / we / they have been speaking
he / she / it has been speaking
Both tenses are used to express that an action began in the past and is still going on or has just finished. In many cases, both forms are correct, but there is often a difference in meaning: We use the Present Perfect Simple mainly to express that an action is completed or to emphasise the result. We use the Present Perfect Progressive to emphasise the duration or continuous course of an action.
Use of Present Perfect Simple
  • Puts emphasis on the result.                Example: She has written five letters.
  • Action that is still going on.                    Example: School has not started yet.
  • Action that stopped recently.                  Example: She has cooked dinner.
  • Finished action that has an influence on the present     Example: I have lost my key.
  • Action that has taken place once, never or several times before the moment of speaking.
             Example: I have never been to Australia.

Signal Words of Present Perfect Simple
  • already, ever, just, never, not yet, so far, till now, up to now
Result or duration?
Do you want to express what has happened so far or how long an action has been going on yet?
Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Progressive
Result (what / how much / how often)
I have written 5 letters. / I have been to London twice.
Duration (how long)
I have been writing for an hour.
Present Perfect Simple Present Perfect Progressive
Emphasis on completion
I have done my homework. (Meaning: My homework is completed now.)
Emphasis on duration
I have been doing my homework. (Meaning: That's how I have spent my time. It does not matter whether the homework is completed now.)
Certain verbs
The following verbs are usually only used in Present Perfect Simple (not in the progressive form).
  • state: be, have (for possession only)
Example: We have been on holiday for two weeks.
  • senses: feel, hear, see, smell, taste, touch
Example: He has touched the painting.
  • brain work: believe, know, think, understand
Example: I have known him for 3 years.
Complete the following statements with the correct option. (PPS-Present perfect simple or PPC -  Present Perfect Continuous). When to use which tense?
  1. If we want to emphasise the duration of an action, we use                 _________________________________
  2. If we want to tell, how often something has happened so far, we use _______________________________
  3. If we want to emphasise the result of an action, we use                      _________________________________
  4. If we want to emphasise that an action is completed now, we use    _________________________________
  5. If we want to emphasise how we have spent our time, we use          _________________________________
Exercise 3
Put the verbs into the correct tense (Present Perfect Simple or Present Perfect Continuous).
  1. I (play / not) _________________________ the computer for half an hour, only for about 5 minutes.
  2. Bob (drive / not) _________________________ a car for eight years.
  3. Carla (go / not) _________________________ on holiday for three years.
  4. We (run / not) _________________________ for 40 minutes yet - there are still 10 minutes left.
  5. They (smoke / not) _________________________ for 10 days now.
  6. I (eat / not) _________________________ anything since two o'clock.
  7. Anna (work / not) _________________________ here for five years, but for seven years.
  8. I (read / not)                 _________________________ for a long time - just 10 minutes, not more.
  9. You (cycle / not) _________________________ for two hours. It was only about one hour.
  10. Catherine (speak / not) _________________________French for 10 years, so her French isn't very good now.  
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