What’s the Difference? Present Perfect | Present Perfect Continuous

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Hi there! How has everyone been doing? It’s another beautiful day to answer one of the questions we received from last week’s Tuesday Q&A! We’ll discuss the Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous tenses today.

We’ll talk about their differences and their appropriate use. I’ll also give you guys plenty of examples so that by the end of this post, you’ll be confident in using your English tenses naturally!

All right, let’s get to it!


The present perfect tense is formed when you combine ‘have’ or ‘has’ and the past participle of the verb.

The past participle is made when you add ed to the end of a verb, like this – talk + ed = talked. It might look like the simple past tense, but it isn’t! You will always see have or has in front of a past participle.

There are many irregular past participles, too…like have eaten…but don’t worry, the best way to learn irregular verbs is one by one as you see them. Please don’t try to memorize long lists of irregular verbs!

Some Easy Examples of Present Perfect

Here are some quick and clear examples of using the present perfect tense:

  • I have lived in Japan. (I lived in Japan sometime in the past, it’s not important when I lived there or for how long.)
  • She has eaten breakfast. (We are saying that it doesn’t matter when she ate or what she ate, we are saying that she isn’t hungry because at some point, she has already eaten.)
  • Gabby and her cousins have visited their grandmother. (They did this in the past, maybe more than one time, and it isn’t important when they did this.)
  • Emma has watched that movie. (It isn’t important when she saw it.)

When Do I Use the Present Perfect Tense?

An easy way to remember when to use this English tense is to keep in mind that it is used when talking about experiences, descriptions in the past, and habits. If you can point to the calendar and say “I did this thing on this day, or at this time,” don’t use present perfect. Instead, you need to use the simple past.

Present perfect is also used when talking about something that happened in the past that has an impact on the present. So be very careful when using this English tense.

Here are some of the wrong ways to use the present perfect tense!

  • She has eaten breakfast yesterday.
  • I have seen that tomorrow.
  • Joel has gone home last night.

Notice that in each sentence, there is a word that says when this thing happened: yesterday, tomorrow, and last night. If you use the present perfect, don’t use a time word like yesterday. Instead, say:

  • She has eaten breakfast. OR She ate breakfast yesterday.
  • I have seen that movie. OR I will see that movie tomorrow.
  • Joel has gone home. OR Joel went home last night.


This is used for actions or activities that started in the past and continue into the present.

To make this tense, you need have or had + been + the verb in ing form.
I have + been + living (live + ing)

Let me show you some examples:

  • I’ve been living in Japan for five years. (I moved to Japan five years ago and I still live there.)
  • She has been going to the same stylist since she was a teenager. (She started going to this stylist a long time ago and she still goes.)
  • We have been buying yogurt here for a long time. (We started shopping here years ago and we still shop here.)
  • They’ve been working at the factory for ten years. (They started working at the factory in 2010 – now it is 2020 and they still work there.)


Did you notice that these actions include the present? Words like “for five years,” “since she was a teenager,” and “for ten years” emphasize that this sentence includes the present. 

However, don’t use expressions that talk about one time in the past with the present perfect continuous! Don’t say:

  • I have been living in Japan five years ago.
  • She has been getting her hair cut yesterday.
  • We have been buying yogurt from the same place last week.
  • They’ve been working at the factory in 2010.

The words ago, yesterday, last week, and in 2010 tell you that this thing happened one time. You need the simple past to say these thoughts.

I lived in Japan five years ago.
She got her hair cut yesterday.
We bought yogurt here last week.
They worked at the factory in 2010.


Did you notice the contractions I used? It’s very common for native speakers to make contractions with the present perfect and the present perfect continuous.

I have been going = I’ve been going
She has talked = She’s talked
We have been eating = We’ve been eating

If you want to sound more natural and like a native English speaker, make contractions with your “I have” phrases, too! You can also use them in casual writing, but not in formal or business writing.


Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple and you will ace this for sure! Just answer the three questions below using the present perfect or present perfect continuous tenses.

  1. What have you been up to lately?
  2. How long have you been living in the United States (or wherever your are living now)?
  3. How long have you worked at your present job?

I can’t wait to read your answers! Please write them in the comments section of this post.

And if you want more grammar lessons in English, here’s one more post that’s as enjoyable as this one we just had!

Have fun learning and practicing your English tenses and other grammar lessons! Until next time!

Inizio modulo


And if you want more grammar lessons in English, here’s one more post that’s as enjoyable as this one we just had!

Have fun learning and practicing your English tenses and other grammar lessons! Until next time!

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