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Natives & Tenses: Chapter 7 Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Continuous

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Part 7. Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Continuous
This is a common area for students to get confused, and really shows the difference in emphasis and focus of the ASPECTS!

Let's recap!
(Go back to PART 1 if this is unclear)

So the SIMPLE ASPECT shows the Action as...

...as a FACT, a RESULT, COMPLETED. Permanent. It is like a photo or a singular event or a larger fact. It is DONE.

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While the CONTINUOUS ASPECT focuses on the Action being...

...TEMPORARY, an ACTIVITY, it is like a video. It might be completed, it might not, but it communicates the ACTVITY. It is DOING.

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And the PERFECT ASPECT? What does that focus on?

It focuses on the BEFORE but with an impact after.

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So where is the focus for the PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE and for the PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS?

Well they both focus on the BEFORE NOW, with some impact on NOW. (See Part 2 for more info).
And between the SIMPLE and CONTINOUS?
Well they BOTH have FACTS and ACTIVITIES but...
...the PRESENT PERFECT SIMPLE focuses on FACTS FROM BEFORE.
And the PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS focuses on ACTIVITIES FROM BEFORE.

Let's look at some examples:

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Where is the probable focus in each of these two sentences?:
I have been waiting an hour.
I have waited an hour.

Firstly, which focuses on the AMOUNT OF TIME?

I have waited an hour.
It focuses on the fact of the wait.
Namely ONE HOUR.

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I have been waiting an hour.
I have waited an hour.

Secondly, which focuses on the ACTIVITY OF WAITING?

Well, I have been waiting an hour!

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I have been waiting an hour.
I have waited an hour.

Thirdly, lets say you want to express your anger....
Which conveys your anger more, the hour or the waiting?
Which would you use?

I think even though they factually have the same information, "I have been waiting an hour"
would communicate more anger!

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I have been running for an hour.
I have run for an hour.
Who is proud? Who is tired?

I think you would be proud of the fact, so I have run for an hour, not 30 minutes.
I think you would be tired of the activity, so I have been running for an hour, not walking or sitting!

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I have written this report, here it is.
I have been writing this report, here it is.
Which focuses on the report?
Which focuses on the effort to do the report?

Report: I have written this report, I hope you like it.
Effort: I have been writing this report, you better like it because it took all day!

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What have you been doing today?
What have you done today?

Which does your boss ask?
Which does your friend ask?

Well your friend is interested in your activity, not your results, so they ask "What have you been doing today? Anything interesting?"
Instead, your boss is interested in results, "What have you done today?".
If you answer, "Nothing".
Your boss is going to shout at you: "WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING TODAY?". because now they are interested in your precise activity!!!

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BE CAREFUL:
I have been working all day.

Does that mean I am still at the office?

Not necessarily. Perhaps I am, perhaps not.
Remember from PART 2 that the Present Perfect describes TIME until now, not actions until now.
So it is definitely talking about the impact of the activity on now, but not necessarily that the activity is still happening!

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Test Your Knowledge!

Question


I have been waiting an hour.
I have waited an hour.

Which focuses MORE on the ACTIVITY of the verb (to wait)?

Theory Test


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Answer


I have been waiting an hour.

Notes


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Notes


No specific notes on this question yet, sorry.
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