Jump to content
Next LIVE session with Minoo for GOLD & Silver members is on SUNDAY, 14 August at 4 p.m. London time. You will receive the Zoom link on Friday 12th. Please ensure your NEWSLETTRE notification is enabled.

Present perfect vs present perfect continuous.

viral patel

Recommended Posts

Hello Minoo ma'am and friends,

I am having difficulties to understand perfect simple tences and with since & for  because we don't have any perfect tenses in my native language so translation is even very difficult.

plaese consider following scenario.

I start playing tennis at 8 AM and stopped at 10 AM when friend A visits me.  In afternoon Friend B visits me and asks "what I have done today?"

which are the correct ones context wise.

1) I have played tennis.

2) I have played tennis for 2 hours.

3) I had played tennis for 2 hours before friend A visited me.

4) I had been playing tennis for 2 hours before friend A visited me.

I understand that we can use present perfect with non continuous verbs and some verbs which are used as static by native speakers  like Live, Work, Study, Teach etc.

but what about dynamic verbs with since & for.

for example, when we can say following statements?

1) It has been raining for 2 hours.

2) It has rained for 2 hours.

please consider same statements with since.


Viral Patel





Link to comment
  • Head Tutor

Hello Viral,

Thank you for your question. These tenses are difficult to get right every time because of the differences between British and American English. Let me answer according to strict British English rules. These will help you in your own usage, but do not be surprised if you hear 'ungrammatical' usage in movies and informal conversations.

Your four answers to the question 'What have you done today?' are all possible, but let me add some notes:

 1) I have played tennis. ( ... and I've done X, and I've done Y) - This is the best answer: telling them the different things you have done.

2) I have played tennis for 2 hours. - Correct grammatically, but again, you should mention the other things you've done. If you only want to talk about playing tennis, then it's best to put it in a past time frame: I went to the club at 9 o'clock and played tennis with Jim for two hours. 

3) I had played tennis for 2 hours before friend A visited me. - See 4) using the Past Perfect instead of Perfect Continuous is acceptable here.

4) I had been playing tennis for 2 hours before friend A visited me.  - As with 2), if you want to be detailed, introduce a time frame: Friend A visited me at 11. I had been playing ......

To answer your other question:

While it is o.k. to replace Past Perfect Continuous with Past Perfect (because native speakers tend to do it in daily usage), it is not o.k. to replace Present Perfect Continuous with 'for' and 'since'  with Present Perfect when talking about short-term actions. So, avoid saying 'It has rained for two hours / since 9 a.m. Say: 'It has been raining for two hours / since 9 a.m.

I hope this answers your question. 


  • Like 1
Link to comment

Thank you Minoo ma'am for detailed answer.

Could you please elaborate, in which are the conditions/situations sentences 2) and 3) are not acceptable.

"While it is o.k. to replace Past Perfect Continuous with PastPerfect (because native speakers tend to do it in daily usage)"

Ma'am, does it mean that we can replace all action verbs past perfect continuous tense with past perfect tense with for and since.

A detail insight would be much appreciated.

for example, Do this sentences have same meanings?

1) we had been swimming for 2 hours when/ before we rescued.

2) we had swum for 2 hours when/before we rescued.

Thank you again

Viral patel.


Link to comment
  • Head Tutor

Hello Viral,

Yes, you have understood correctly:

Present Perfect Continuous is the correct choice for action verbs with for and since. However, Past Perfect Continuous, despite being the correct tense with 'for', is often replaced by Past Perfect. Therefore, your two sentences above have the same meaning. 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.