Present perfect simple and continuous

Present perfect simple and continuous

Do you know the difference between We've painted the room and We've been painting the room? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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.

Grammar test 1

Grammar B1-B2: Present perfect simple and present perfect continuous: 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

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.

Grammar test 2

Grammar B1-B2: Present perfect simple and present perfect continuous: 2

Language level

Average: 4.4 (110 votes)

Hello tami,

If you see evidence of someone recently using your mobile, then you should use the present perfect continuous: 'Who has been using my mobile?'

I'm not sure if you'd be familiar with the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, but this reminds me of the father bear, who says 'Someone has been eating my porridge' when he sees that part of his food has been eaten.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team


Submitted by wasan0909 on Thu, 25/03/2021 - 01:57

she's been preparing for the party all day she have prepared for the party we've worked on the project yesterday I've had a panic attack please tell me if those sentences correct or not.

Hello wasan0909,

The first one is correct and the fourth one is correct in a certain situation, for example when you're talking about your life experience. It means that you had a panic attack at one point in your life.

Hope this helps.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by vanshh03 on Mon, 08/03/2021 - 21:53

Which one of these is correct? 1-He has had cancer since 2016. 2-He has cancer since 2016 And if neither then what will be the correct statement?

Submitted by Nik on Sat, 06/03/2021 - 15:24

Hello!May someone help me?I was wondering...If i want to say:it is the first(second,last etc)time i'm doing somenting for a specific time passed(if i'm saying it right),and i'm saying that during the time i'm doing that,and i also want to point out when was the last time i did it in the past. For example,i'm eating sushi with a friend and i want to say to him that it is the first time i'm eating sushi by also announcing him how long has it took me to eat sushi since the last time i did..To clarify even further my thought i will write the sentence that first popped into my head(and i'm sure there something wrong with) when i was wondering of how to express this thought.So it goes something like this: "It is the first time i've been eating sushi for the last two years" I hope it makes some sense and i did't confused you. I would be grateful for some help. Thank you in advance!

Hello Nik,

I think there are several ways to say this:

This is the first time I've eaten sushi in two years.

This is the first time in two years I've eaten sushi.

The last time I ate sushi was two years ago.

It's two years since I last ate sushi.

I haven't eaten sushi for two years.

I haven't eaten sushi since two years ago.

I think the simple form (I've eaten) rather than the continuous form (I've been eating) is better here as we are talking about the action as a whole rather than the process of eating.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Fr on Sun, 13/12/2020 - 08:51

Hello Could you please explain for me why in the below sentence we have "present perfect continuous" 1. I have been drinking more water lately, and I feel better.
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 07:58

In reply to by Fr


Hello Fr,

In terms of the table above, I'd say it says 'how long'.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team