Both tenses have a continuous form. These continuous tenses are formed with the verb be and the –ing form of the verb:

We use continuous aspect:

  • for something happening before and after a given time.

He’s getting on the train. [before and after the moment of speaking]
It was quarter past ten. We were watching the news on television.

  • for something continuing 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. 

Exercise

Comments

hello kirk,why is there not the present perfect continuous in the first example as the present perfect continuous is used to show that something has been continuing up to the present?

Hello manuel24,

The present perfect continuous would suggest something which occurred repeatedly in the past and has a present result, whereas the present continuous describes an ongoing situation (he still criticises the speaker now; it has not ended).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I don't understand why there is the present perfect continuos in the example above "they have been doing that every day this week",does not "this week" suggest the ongoing situation and not something which occured repeatedly in the past,does it?

thank you peter,but could i use the present perfect continuous with the verb "hate" if i would it?is it correct to say that non action verbs and perception verbs are not used in continuous verbs?

Hi.
Dear BC team.

In some grammar books and coursebooks, the verb "enjoy" is said to be a state verb, not forming continuous tenses. I personaly disagree. I think it is very common to say "I am enjoying the party." and things like that. So I usually tell people to cross "enjoy" out. Would you agree?

There are some other verbs which are said to be state verbs, i.e. "see, hear, think, love, like, look". However, I hear sentences like "I can't believe what I am seeing., , What we are seeing here ..... , They aren't looking very happy., I am loving it., I am liking it., I am thinking you ain't no taxi driver. I am hearing ....." etc. more and more often, so I believe, that rule is becoming quite obsolete. What do you think?

Thanks for your comments.
Radovan

Hi Radovan,

I wouldn't say that the distinction is disappearing but there are, as you say, many verbs which can be used as both state verbs and dynamic verbs. The meaning is often different in each use, however. For example, the verb have can be used as a dynamic verb in phrases like I'm having breakfast or We're having a meeting. However, the meaning is not possession here but rather eating and holding, respectively.

Languages are flexible and English is no different. Words become used in new ways and old uses can disappear or change. I think you are quite right to assess the accuracy of claimed rules in the light of how the language is used.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hello,
Could you please tell me which of these two sentences is correct: "I will sit in this room for one more hour" or "I will have been sitting in this room for one more hour?"

Hello Ulianan,

Both sentences are grammatically possible and so which is correct will depend upon the particular context in which it is used.

The first sentence (will sit) is a prediction about the future from the point of view of the present. The second (will have been sitting) is a description of the situation looking back from a point in the future; it carries the sense of by that time...

You can read more about the second example on this page.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi.
I've got one question. Can we use both aspects of the verb 'stand' in this phrase?

He stood/was standing outside the door for a moment, trying to understand what he had seen.

Thank you.

Hi Marua,

For most cases, the past simple form is the best one to use here. The continuous one could be possible in some specific situation, e.g. as the answer to a question regarding why he was there, but in general the simple form is more likely.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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