The present perfect is formed from the present tense of the verb have and the past participle of a verb:

The present perfect continuous is formed with have/has been and the -ing form of the verb:


We use the present perfect tense:

  • for something that started in the past and continues in the present:

They’ve been married for nearly fifty years.
She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

Note: We normally use the present perfect continuous for this:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.
It’s been raining for hours.

  •  for something we have done several times in the past and continue to do:

I’ve played the guitar ever since I was a teenager.
He has written three books and he is working on another one.
I’ve been watching that programme every week.

We often use a clause with since to show when something started in the past:

They’ve been staying with us since last week.
I have worked here since I left school.
I’ve been watching that programme every week since it started.

  • when we are talking about our experience up to the present:

Note: We often use the adverb ever to talk about experience up to the present:

My last birthday was the worst day I have ever had.

Note: and we use never for the negative form:

Have you ever met George?
Yes, but I’ve never met his wife.

  • for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking:

I can’t get in the house. I’ve lost my keys.
Teresa isn’t at home. I think she has gone shopping.
I’m tired out. I’ve been working all day.


 We use the present perfect of be when someone has gone to a place and returned:

A: Where have you been?
B: I’ve just been out to the supermarket.

A: Have you ever been to San Francisco?
B: No, but I’ve been to Los Angeles.

But when someone has not returned we use have/has gone:

A: Where is Maria? I haven’t seen her for weeks.
B: She's gone to Paris for a week. She’ll be back tomorrow.

We often use the present perfect with time adverbials which refer to the recent past:

just; only just; recently;

Scientists have recently discovered a new breed of monkey.
We have just got back from our holidays.

or adverbials which include the present:

ever (in questions); so far; until now; up to now; yet (in questions and negatives)

Have you ever seen a ghost?
Where have you been up to now?
Have you finished your homework yet?
No, so far I’ve only done my history.


We do not use the present perfect with an adverbial which refers to past time which is finished:

I have seen that film yesterday.
We have just bought a new car last week.
When we were children we have been to California.

But we can use it to refer to a time which is not yet finished:

Have you seen Helen today?
We have bought a new car this week.





Hello Andrew,

Yes, you could say both sentences about the guitar. I'm afraid it's not really possible to say what the precise difference is between the two other forms without knowing the context or the speaker's intentions -- we can use both forms to mean different things.

This page and the video on this page explore this topic in more detail. Please take a look and then let us know if you have any other questions.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir
Would you please exp;ain this to me?
I am looking at a graph which shows increasing temperature between 1990 and 1995 in a paticular city. Could I use present perfect continuous when writing what the graph shows or should I use past perfect?
For example: The temperature has been increasing since 1990. or The temperature had been increasing since 1990. Please let me know which is correct or both are wrong. Is it alright to use past continuous? The temperature was increasing from 1990
until 1995.
Thank you.
Andrew international

Best wishes for The LearnEnglish Team. I am glad to be here. Would you explain the following points? I have copied your sentences above.
We use the present perfect tense:
1)I’ve been watching that programme every week.
2)They’ve been staying with us since last week.
3)I’m tired out. I’ve been working all day.
Doesn't there have to be the present perfect continuous tense? (have been and the -ing form of the verb).

Hello Vladimir88,

I'm not sure what you mean by 'Doesn't there have to be...?' Are you asking if the present perfect simple would also be possible here? If so, then the answer is yes, you could use the present perfect simple but that it would be much less likely. When emphasising the duration or ongoing nature of an activity the continuous form is much more common.

We have a page on the difference between the simple and continuous forms of the present perfect which I think will be helpful to you. You can find it here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, i'm litlle confused, in grammar mentioned that -"ing form of the verb" is necessety to the present perfect continuous. Nevertheless everywhere can be found something like this "They’ve been married for nearly fifty years" Can you clear it up?

Hello Alexeyled,

'they have been married' is a little bit tricky because the verb is 'have been' (i.e. the verb 'be' in the present perfect simple) and 'married' is an adjective. It looks just like a past participle, but in this case it is an adjective.

I'd suggest an example with another verb. For example: 'they have lived' and 'they have been living'. Both are forms of the verb 'live' -- the first is present perfect simple and the second is present perfect continuous.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for help, but can i turns out i can use adjective in present perfect instead of ing-verb ? do a grammar rule exist on this matter ?

Hello Alexeyled,

The present perfect in the example Kirk refers to is the verb 'be': have been. The adjective simply follows the verb:

They are married [present]

They were married [past]

They have been married [present perfect]

and so on.


It is not about the adjective being used in the present perfect. Rather it is simply an adjective following the verb 'be', and that verb can be in any form.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter M , do you mean "They have been married " it's present perfect simple, not continuous,
like "they have known used ......"?

Hello Alexeyled,

The verb form 'have been' is the present perfect form of the verb 'be'. The verb 'be' does not generally occur in continuous forms.

'They have known used' is not a correct form. You can say 'they have used' or 'they have known', both of which are present perfect forms (of the verbs 'use' and 'know', respectively). The present perfect continuous form of the first would be 'they have been using'. 'Know', like 'be' does not generally occur in the continuous.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team