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Differences between present perfect simple and present perfect continuous

Verb tenses are the different connotations that a verb has to express the moment when the action is performed. In all languages, verb tenses are of great relevance because they give meaning to a sentence with respect to the time in which the verb is conjugated. Without the verb tenses it would be impossible to determine the moment in which the action expressed by the verb is carried out.

In this sense, in English the present perfect verb tense (present perfect) has two variants: present perfect simple and present perfect continuous. Both verb tenses express that the action is carried out in the present but with the difference of the continuity of the action, which we will see below and then summarize their differences.

Present Perfect Simple

The simple present perfect verb tense is one that describes an action that started in the past and has just finished. The present perfect simple puts a lot of emphasis on the result and not on the action itself. In addition, it also indicates that some actions have been carried out in a certain time.

On the other hand, it is used to inform indirectly about the present, since it implies that the situation that started has not changed. The formula for simple present perfect tense sentences is: subject + have/has + past participle verb.

Examples:

  • I have done my homework, indicates that the action started has finished.
  • I´ve gone to the cinema three times this month, indicates that some actions (going to the cinema) have been carried out in a given time.
  • She has gone to Paris, indicates that the situation started has not changed.

Present Perfect Continuous

The present perfect continuous verb tense is used when it is necessary to emphasize the action itself rather than the result. In this verb tense it is not specified whether the action has ended or not, that is, the action started in the past and may have just finished or may even continue. Also, it is used to indicate the duration of an action that started in the past and has just finished or is still going on.

The formula for sentences in the present perfect continuous is: subject + has been/have been (present perfect of the verb to be) + present participle of the root verb (verb + ing).

Examples:

  • I have been swimming in a pool (I have been swimming in a pool), indicates what he has been doing and does not indicate if the action has finished.
  • I have been waiting for one hour, indicates the duration of an action and does not specify if it is still waiting or if it has finished. The context of the text will give meaning to the sentence.

According to the above, the following differences between present perfect simple and present perfect continuous are presented:

  • The present perfect simple indicates that an action has just finished while the present perfect continuous does not indicate that the action has already finished.
  • The present perfect simple emphasizes the result while the present perfect continuous emphasizes the action.

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