Level: intermediate

We use continuous aspect:

  • for something happening before and after a specific time:

He's getting on the train. (before and after the moment of speaking)
It was a quarter past ten. We were watching the news on television.

  • for something happening before and after another action:

Mother will be cooking the dinner when we get home.
We were waiting for the bus when it started to rain.

  • for something continuing for some time:

Everybody will be waiting for us.
They had been working hard all day.

  • for something happening again and again:

They've been doing that every day this week.
The children were always shouting.
He will be practising the piano every night.

  • for something temporary:

We are renting an apartment until our house is ready.
He was working in a garage during the vacation.

  • for something new:

We have moved from Birmingham. We're living in Manchester now.
He had left university and was working in his father's business.

  • to describe something changing or developing:

Everything has been getting more difficult.
He was growing more bad-tempered every day. 

Continuous aspect 1


Continuous aspect 2


We can use continuous aspect:

How long have you been sitting there?
I don't know how long she had been learning Spanish.

Your friends will be looking for you.
They might be playing tennis.

You should have been driving more carefully.
Soon we will have been living here for 25 years.

Continuous aspect 3


Continuous aspect 4


We do not normally use the continuous aspect with stative verbs. We use the simple instead:

I don't understand you. (NOT am not understanding)
When I got home, I really needed a shower. (NOT was needing)
I've always liked John. (NOT been liking)



As an example of "something continuing before and after another action", you gave the following sentence: Mother will be cooking the dinner when we get home. Can you explain please which action took place *before* in this example?

Hello Or Yahalom,

In this example Mother will be in the middle of cooking when we get home (remember, 'get' here means the same as 'arrive'). The sequence is this:

1. Mother starts cooking

2. We get home

3. Mother finishes cooking (and we are already at home when this happens).


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Are these sentences correct?
1. I have been working all day.
2. I have been working today.
3. I have worked today.
I could use some help.

Hello Marua,

All of those sentences are grammatically correct. Which is appropriate will depend upon the context.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi again and thank you very much for the answer.

Regarding present perfect continuous, in the next dialogue, can I use 'today' and 'all day' with no difference in meaning?

'I'm exhausted.
Have you been working hard today/all day?'

Both of them are appropriate?


Hi Marua,

You can use both 'all day' and 'today' but there is a difference in meaning. 'Today' is more general and does not tell us how long the activity took. 'All day' tells us that it was an activity which lasted the whole day.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear teachers,
Is that following sentence is correct;
I am Kim Kiyani living in two blocks away from the club .
I think the original sentence should be like this ; I am Kim Kiyani ,and I am living in two blocks away from the club .
If the first sentence is correct , what is the rule behind that ? it is possible to use the same structure for a sentence like this ;
I have arrived recently, (I have )found the apartment keys beneath the flower pot

Hello bany,

The first sentence is not a natural sentence. The reason is that the participle here acts as a reduced relative clause identifying which thing we are talking about. For example, we might say the following:

That is the dog living in the flat next to mine.

The participle phrase 'living in...' tells us which dog we mean: not any dog but a specific dog (the one which lives next to us).


Your sentence is illogical because you have already given a name which identifies you. It would make sense only if there were two people callled Kim Kiyani and you needed to identify which one you were. The sentence would be fine without a name:

I am the guy living in two blocks away from the club.

The context here would be that the listener knows about someone who lives two blocks away - perhaps you have spoken on the phone and mentioned it - and so this information can be used to identify which guy you are.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

"Mother will be cooking the dinner when we get home."
Is it incorrect to say in the sentence above, instead of "we get home", we will get home?

Hello Tad90,

Yes, it is incorrect. After time conjunctions we use a present verb form for future meaning. You can read more about this on this page.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team