Look at these examples to see how the present perfect simple and continuous are used.
We've painted the bathroom.
She's been training for a half-marathon.
I've had three coffees already today!
They've been waiting for hours.
Try this exercise to test your grammar.
Read the explanation to learn more.
We use both the present perfect simple (have or has + past participle) and the present perfect continuous (have or has + been + -ing form) to talk about past actions or states which are still connected to the present.
Focusing on result or activity
The present perfect simple usually focuses on the result of the activity in some way, and the present perfect continuous usually focuses on the activity itself in some way.
|Present perfect simple||Present perfect continuous|
|Focuses on the result||Focuses on the activity|
|You've cleaned the bathroom! It looks lovely!||I've been gardening. It's so nice out there.|
|Says 'how many'||Says 'how long'|
|She's read ten books this summer.||She's been reading that book all day.|
|Describes a completed action||Describes an activity which may continue|
|I've written you an email.||I've been writing emails.|
|When we can see evidence of recent activity|
|The grass looks wet. Has it been raining?
I know, I'm really red. I've been running!
Ongoing states and actions
We often use for, since and how long with the present perfect simple to talk about ongoing states.
How long have you known each other?
We've known each other since we were at school.
We often use for, since and how long with the present perfect continuous to talk about ongoing single or repeated actions.
How long have they been playing tennis?
They've been playing tennis for an hour.
They've been playing tennis every Sunday for years.
Sometimes the present perfect continuous can emphasise that a situation is temporary.
I usually go to the gym on the High Street, but it's closed for repairs at the moment so I've been going to the one in the shopping centre.
Do this exercise to test your grammar again.
It is not grammatically incorrect to use the simple form, but the continuous is much more likely since learning is inherently an ongoing process.
The simple form would suggest that two months was the goal, not the actual learning. For example, if a friend made a bet with you in which he or she said that you would quit before the end of two months, then you might say triumphantly at the end something like this: 'You said I couldn't do it, but I've leant English for two months now.'
The LearnEnglish Team