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The paradigm of the verb in the present perfect continuous

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Affirmative Interrogative
I have been speaking He (she, it) has been speaking We have been speaking You have been speaking They have been speaking Have I been speaking? Has he (she, it) been speaking? Have we been speaking? Have you been speaking? Have they been speaking?
Negative Contracted negative
I have not been speaking He (she, it) has not been speaking We have not been speaking You have not been speaking They have not been speaking I haven’t been speaking He (she, it) hasn’t been speaking We haven’t been speaking You haven’t been speaking They haven’t been speaking


a) Have I not been speaking? Has he (she, it) not been speaking? Have we not been speaking? Have you not been speaking? Have they not been speaking? b) Haven’t I been speaking? Hasn’t he (she, it) been speaking? Haven’t we been speaking? Haven’t you been speaking? Haven’t they been speaking?

The present perfect continuous is used mainly in conversation.


§ 27. The present perfect continuous is used with actional verbs to denote:


1. Actions in progress which begin at a certain moment in the past and continue into the present. In this case either the starting point of the action or the period of time during which it has been in progress is usually specified.


I’ve been writing since morning, and so I’ll soon stop.

They’ve been living here since 1970. Now they are going to move to N.

It has been raining ever since midnight, and it is still drizzling.

She’s a fourth year student, so she’s been learning English for at least 3 years already.


All these forms denoting actions continuing into the present (the so-called present perfect continuous inclusive) are translated into Russian by the present tense, imperfective (in the sentences above: пишу, живут, дождь идет, учит).


2. Actions in progress which begin in the past and continue up to the moment of speaking or till just before it. It is the present perfect continuous exclusive.


Oh, here you are at last! I’ve been waiting for you all day!

It has been snowing since morning, but now it has stopped.

You look so sad. Have you been crying?

It has been raining for at least two hours, but now the wind has driven the clouds away.


3. Actions in progress that both begin and end at some indeterminate time before the moment of speaking, though connected with it through their importance for the present.


My brother has been using my bicycle and has got the tyre punctured.

I have been thinking over your offer, but still can’t tell you anything definite.

I hear she has been calling on you again?


The forms denoting actions that are over by the moment of speaking (the so-called present perfect continuous exclusive) are translated into Russian by means of the past tense, imperfective (in the sentences in items 2 and 3 they are: ждал, снег шел, плакала, дождь шел, катался, обдумывал, приходила).


4. Future actions in progress before a certain moment in the future (in subordinate adverbial clauses of time and condition).


He will get accustomed to the surroundings after he has been staying here for a week or two.


§ 28. As is seen from above, the present perfect continuous cannot be used to denote a succession of actions and therefore cannot be used to describe the development of events. If two actions denoted by the present perfect continuous happen to come together it only means that they are simultaneous and are usually performed by two different persons:


I have been living here for two months while they have been travell­ing all over Europe. Now they are coming back, and I’ll soon move back to my own place.


Past tenses


§ 29. All the past tenses (the past indefinite, the past continuous, the past perfect, the past perfect continuous) refer the actions they denote to the past. The difference between them lies in the way they represent the I categories of aspect and perfect.

Owing to their past time reference all of them are used both in the written language in narrative and description, and in conversation, especially the past indefinite.


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