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Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous: “Up to Now” meaning…

This post looks at the difference between the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous when talking about actions that started in the past and have continued “up to now”…

The quick answer is: when you are using an active verb, there is no difference... i.e.

· I have worked as an English teacher for three years.

· I have been working as an English teacher for three years.

· I have lived in my current flat since 2019.

· I have been living in my current flat since 2019.

But... when you are using a Stative verb, you can only use the Present Perfect.

· I have been a father since 2018.

· I have been being a father since 2018.


Active verbs usually involve some kind of physical movement; run, walk, speak, send, travel…

Stative verbs often relate to:

  • thoughts and opinions: agree, believe, doubt, guess, imagine, know, mean, recognise, remember, suspect, think, understand

  • feelings and emotions: dislike, hate, like, love, prefer, want, wish

  • senses and perceptions: appear, be, feel, hear, look, see, seem, smell, taste

  • possession and measurement: belong, have, measure, own, possess, weigh.

Practice exercises: To develop a familiarity with Stative and Active verbs, answer the following questions to practice. Note that some of the questions contain a double question, firstly asking for an answer that is correct in the present (expressed in the Present Simple or Present Continuous) and then asking you to say how long the action/state has gone on for (expressed in the Present Perfect Simple or Present Perfect Continuous). Question 1 should make it clear what I mean;

1) Where do you live, and how long have you lived there?

Example answer: I live in Berlin and I have lived in Berlin for 8 years.

2) Where do you work and since when have you worked there?

3) What is the most expensive thing that you own, and how long have you owned it?

4) I know that you are learning English, but since when have you been learning English?

5) I assume that you are sitting at the computer now, but how long have you been sitting at the computer?

6) Who is the Prime Minister (or President, or Chancellor, or leader, or dictator depending on where you live) of your country and how long have they been in power?

7) Which person (excluding your family) have you known for a long time, and how long have you known them?

8) Where is somewhere that you want to visit? How long have you wanted to visit there?

9) What is something that you dislike? How long have you disliked it?

10) What des your company/organisation/firm do, and how long have they done it for?

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