"Thanks for helping me get the A+.  I'm going to grad school!" --Simon D., UCLA

  The Web site just for English students       December 21st, 2014 6:07pm      
click here to return to MyEnglishTeacher.net home
sign up for FREE English lessons, FREE updates and news, and great offers for English students!

visit our online TOEFL Help Center

have an English teacher correct your essay, composition, report or any other type of writing
have a professional correct or write your resume and cover letter!
see past lessons that have appeared on MyEnglishTeacher.net!
see this week's FREE English lesson
click here to enter the LIVE chat room
click here for great resources for teachers

buy textbooks and English books at great prices!

contact us--we'd love to hear from you!

 

Looking for something?


 

 

 

 



see the answers now!

Welcome to this week's writing lesson from

 MyEnglishTeacher.net

It Has Been Raining All Day . . .

Lesson Topic: Using The Present Perfect Progressive And The Difference Between The Present Perfect Progressive And The Present Perfect.


Let's say that your friend calls you up and wants to take you out for dinner.  You really don't feel like going because it started to rain early in the morning, and now it is very wet outside.  It is too wet to go out.  You are afraid of driving when the roads are so wet and slippery.  You do not know the exact time the rain started, but you want to tell your friend that the rain started in the past (in this situation, early in the morning) and is still continuing.  It is still raining.  You would probably say
It has been raining all day, and the streets are too wet to go out now.

This grammar is called the present perfect progressive.  It is used to say that something started in the past, and it is still happening.  It is often used to answer how long questions with for and since.  

So, how do you make the present perfect progressive?  Good question!  Here's how you make it:

It has been raining
subject + have or has + been

+

verb with -ing

 

book recommendation

cover Action Grammar: Fast, Easy Answers on Everyday Usage and Punctuation

The author, Joanne Feierman, focuses on the grammar most of us need in everyday life, from "Five Lies Your English Teacher Told You" to "Simple Business Verbs You Should Know." She also includes helpful sections on memos, letter writing, and e-mail etiquette, as well as an appendix of troublesome words and phrases, and words that are easy to misspell.  Click here for more information.

Again, the present perfect progressive is used when an activity started in the past and continues until now.  For example, you may ask a college professor you met at a conference, "How long have you been teaching?"  Professor Brown can answer, "I have been teaching for 23 years."

If you read our lesson on the present perfect, you would know that the present perfect cannot use a specific time, like yesterday (if you haven't read it, you can read it now).  The present perfect progressive works the same way: you cannot use a specific time.  Therefore, I have been teaching at Columbia University today is incorrect.  

However, just like the present perfect, you can use the words since and for.  

The professor could reply with either of these two responses:

I have been teaching at Columbia University for 23 years
    OR

I have been teaching at Columbia University since 1978.

If you read our present perfect lesson, you might ask yourself, "What is the difference between the present perfect progressive and the present perfect?"  That's another good question!  Take a look at these 2 sentences:

Present Perfect Progressive I have been teaching at Columbia University for 23 years
Present Perfect

I have taught at Columbia University for 23 years.

The answer is very simple: there is NO DIFFERENCE.  If you remember correctly, there are 2 kinds of present perfect: 

  SINCE or FOR? Example Meaning
1 NO since or for I have smoked. NOT SURE it continues

The person smoked in the past (we don't know when), and he/she may still smoke, but we do not know.

2 YES, there is since or for I have smoked for 12 years. SURE it continues

The person started to smoke 12 years ago, and he/she still smokes. 

Do you see what the meaning of the second kind of present perfect is?  It is the same meaning as the present perfect progressive!  That's right!  When the present perfect has since or for, it has the same meaning as the present perfect progressive!

As you can see, the present perfect has 2 meanings.  However, the present perfect progressive has only 1 meaning: it started in the past and continues until now.

There is one more thing you must remember: some verbs usually do NOT have -ing.  For example, we say I know you.  We would never say I am knowing you.  That's because know canNOT have -ing.  Verbs that cannot have -ing are called stative verbs.  Here is a list of stative verbs.  The words on the following list rarely have -ing.  Therefore, they are rarely used with the present perfect progressive.

STATIVE VERBS

know understand owe possess be
have* belong contain equal resemble
tend perceive suppose believe decide
conclude prefer love like seem
*have with the meaning of possession: I have a pen.

Because these verbs cannot be used with the present perfect progressive, you can just use the present perfect with since or for:

INCORRECT

We have been knowing you for a long time.
CORRECT We have known you for a long time.

In order to summarize the present perfect progressive and the present perfect, look at the following chart: 

present perfect NO since or for  I have lived in Korea.  Not sure if this person still lives in Korea; the time is also unknown.
present perfect WITH since or for I have lived in Korea since 1997. We are sure this person still lives in Korea; we also know the time.
present perfect progressive  I have been living in Korea since 1997. We are sure this person still lives in Korea; we also know the time.

The second and third sentences above have identical meanings.  The first and second sentences have (potentially) different meanings even though they look almost the same.  

You may be asking, "Which one should I use?  When should I use the present perfect progressive, and when should I use the present perfect with since or for?"

Actually, for some verbs, it doesn't matter, for example, the verb live (see above).  However, for many verbs, if you want to say that the action started in the past and continues until now, it is better to use the present perfect progressive.  Take a look at the following examples:

NOT natural

We have painted our house since last night.
Natural We have been painting our house since last night.

book recommendation

cover Better Sentence Writing in 30 Minutes a Day features clear discussions of rules and strategies for good writing. Clear explanations and lots of exercises reinforce the skills needed for strong written communication. From filling in the blanks to joining short sentences into longer and more graceful combinations, this book will improve your writing. All the answers to the quizzes are given in the back of the book.  Click here for more information.

Quiz time

Directions: Rewrite the following sentences with the present perfect progressive.  The first one has been done for you.


1. Jack is cooking.  He started to do this 4 hours ago.

Jack has been cooking for 4 hours.

2. 
 My brother drives.  He started to do this in 1968.

3.  Carol lives in Morocco.  She went there last month.

4.  Timothy rides a bus to school.  He started to do it when his car broke down.

5.  Ping plays tennis.  She started to do this when she was young.

6.  Mick Jagger sings rock music.  He started to do this 40 years ago with the Rolling Stones.

7.  James knows how to repair a computer.  He learned how to do it a long time ago.

8.  Doctors and researchers look for a cure for cancer.  They started to do this more than 100 years ago.

9.  Patients use anesthesia during childbirth.  They started to do this in the mid-1800s. 

10.  I am reading this lesson.  I started to do this 10 minutes ago.  

 

1. Jack is cooking.  He started to do this 4 hours ago.

Jack has been cooking for 4 hours.

2. 
 My brother drives.  He started to do this in 1968.

My brother has been driving since 1968.

My brother has been driving for 33 years.

3.  Carol lives in Morocco.  She went there last month.

Carol has been living in Morocco for a month.

Carol has been living in Morocco since last month.

4.  Timothy rides a bus to school.  He started to do it when his car broke down.

Timothy has been riding a bus to school since his car broke down.

5.  Ping plays tennis.  She started to do this when she was young.

Ping has been playing tennis since she was young.

6.  Mick Jagger sings rock music.  He started to do this 40 years ago with the Rolling Stones.

Mick Jagger has been singing rock music with the Rolling Stones for 40 years.

7.  James knows how to repair a computer.  He learned how to do it a long time ago.

James has known how to repair a computer for a long time.

**Know cannot have -ing, so we use the present perfect with for which has the same meaning as the present perfect progressive.

8.  Doctors and researchers look for a cure for cancer.  They started to do this more than 100 years ago.

Doctors and researchers have been looking for a cure for cancer for more than 100 years.

9.  Patients use anesthesia during childbirth.  They started to do this in the mid-1800s. 

Patients have been using anesthesia during childbirth since the mid-1800s.

10.  I am reading this lesson.  I started to do this 10 minutes ago.  

I have been reading this lesson for the past 10 minutes.

Are you going to take the TOEFL?  Visit our new TOEFL Help Center.  Go to http://www.MyEnglishTeacher.net/TOEFL.  

 

  Rules to Remember!

1

Usually for can be omitted.  The meaning does not change.  

      Jack has been cooking 4 hours.

2 When using for AND a specific amount of time (one week, three years), you can use the words the past after the for

      We have been living here for the past 10 years.

3 The present perfect progressive usually answers how long questions

     How long have you been studying English?

     I have been studying English since high school.

4 The present perfect progressive can be used for repetitive actions that still occur.  For example,

     I have been going to Canada to ski for many years.

This means that the person goes to Canada on a regular basis.  Notice that the time is many years which is NOT specific.  You canNOT say

     I have been going to Canada to ski 3 times.

Do you want to send this lesson to someone?  Click here!

Want to see other lessons that have been published on MyEnglishTeacher.net?  Click here!

Looking for books to improve your writing?  Click here!

 

2001 MyEnglishTeacher.net.  All rights reserved.  No information or lessons contained on this page or any page in this Web site may be used without the expressed written permission of MyEnglishTeacher.net and its parent company Advanced Learning Center.  This lesson may only be copied and may only be used in a classroom for educational purposes exclusively.  When using in a classroom for educational purposes, this copyright notice MUST be included on all copies. The material contained on this page and all pages in this Web site are covered by copyright laws.  Therefore, no material may be used for another Web site, book, magazine, or any other use.  To use this material, please email us at staff@myenglishteacher.net  



2000 Advanced Learning Center.  All rights reserved.  If you find an error on this Web site, please email us and let us know.  We appreciate all feedback and suggestions.