Monday, 29 June 2015

Discussions--Series 13--ELT Professionals Around the World

Please go to Post 68 and then come back here. Thank you.

Discussions—Series Thirteen

Topic 50
What is the best WAY to EXPLAIN the difference between "present perfect" and "present perfect progressive"? I mean what procedure do you follow, because my students always get confused.
Saeid Noorbar Translator, English Teacher

Teacher Trainer at Private Foreign Language Education Institute.

Hi my friend, Saeed. By taking this issue into consideration that you are professional teacher, I'm trying to say for progressive one, we're looking that if the action from past reach to the boundaries of present time. the emphasize is on the action itself.
''John has been teaching at the university since June''. means from that time till now and maybe in future he will teach. on the other hand, present perfect, is saying the action is continued till present time but it is finished.
''John has taught at University since June''.( the action is Over Now).
SANA E. likes this

Hi Saeid.
This is a tough question! I don't entirely agree with Amin however.

One thing you need to keep in mind about these tense forms (they're both present tense) is that depending on the type of verb you use, the 'definition' of the 'rule' is different.

I have been working here for 10 years. (before now and now at the moment)
I have worked in 10 countries. (before now)

(action verbs where a present continuous form is possible - WORK / PLAY / SPEAK etc..)

I have been married for 10 years. (before now and now)
I have been married twice. (before now)

(no present perfect continuous for the verb TO BE / HAVE / WANT / KNOW / LOVE etc..)

Because of these 2 different types of verb, it's impossible to say "The Present Perfect is..." because it depends on the type of verb you're using.

You also hear:

I have worked here for 10 years" (before now and now)

and it means exactly the same thing as:

"I've been working here for 10 years" (before now and now)

(so how do you explain that?)

Well, let's consider in this case that if the meaning is the same then something else has to be different. Can we imagine that in this case the 'action' of living is less of an 'action' and more of a 'state' so it is behaving like the verbs TO BE / HAVE etc..?

Does this help you?

Glenys HansonDragana D. and 1 other like this

Principal at Privatna varaždinska gimnazija and Škola stranih jezika - Žiger
No, no. Both actions continue up to now. And they mean the same. However, with the progressive one, you want to stress the duration, the activity, while with the simple one you just talk of the fact - an activity from a certain point in the past until now. E.g. when you say "I have been living here since..." is the same as "I have lived here since...". However, the second sentence is more neutral in its style, emphasis, than the first one.
Frances D.Dragana D. and 4 others like this

Language teaching
Never use, in your first examples, verbs like "work" or "live" as these are the very ones where the difference is confusing: There is little difference between "I've lived here for five years." and "I've been living here for five years." (but note you can't use "always" with the progressive perfect) 

Always use an "action verb" to introduce the contrast. 

Then associate the present perfect with the number of times (in an unfinished period) and the progressive form with length of time. 

"John has smoked 5 cigarettes today." vs "He has been smoking that cigarette for 5 minutes. 
I've taught this class 3 times this week." vs "I've been teaching you for half an hour." 
Use a timeline to help student visualise the contrast. 
You might care to set them these exercises to reinforce the lesson: 
There is, of course, more to it than that, but it is a good way to start.
Will SnellenJoseph B. like this

English Instructor at University of Ruse
Dear Saeid, use this example: "Jane has been writing for 2 hours and she has written 5 letters."

"has been writing" shows the duration of the action (how long sth has been done);
"has written" shows the result or the quantity of the work that has been done

I've tried that way and it has always been successful and easy to understand.
Dianna HenshawFrances D. and 6 others like this

I agree, Mark, that it's wise to avoid verbs like "work" and "live" to avoid confusion. You can do that in grammar exercises, but in real life situations I'm sure native speakers would say "I've been living in this house for many, many years". But they could equally correctly say "I've lived in this house for many years", the latter carrying less emphasis. That's how I perceive it.

When you talk about pres. perf. simple connected with numbers - that's true, because you talk about a result e.g. three finished letters etc. But when you say "I've been there three times" the main reason for using pres. perf. s. is not the number but the idea of "until now, until this moment, until present, my experience until now". And that's when we use pres. perf. s. And continuous - only for emphasis of the idea of duration of activity.

First set out the form of the two tenses. Explain the form in detail, with conjugations.
Explain 'perfect' as an action that has been accomplished. 'I have eaten broccoli'. If you say 'I have been eating broccoli', you might easily think that he's still eating broccoli, and I think that's the main point to consider.

Teacher of English in Germany
Very easy differentiation.

Present perfect is a fact and is very likely to continue into the future. It is permanent.

Progressive/continuous is a temporary action and will finish 'soon'. The progressive always prompts a question.

I have lived in Germany for five years. Fact.

I have been living in Germany for five years. And where will you move to next?

The headlines: I always introduce a simplified headline to begin with.

Present perfect: 
Experience of something in the lifetime/existence of the subject. 
"I have been to Germany." (sometime in my lifetime)

As a note I try to introduce this form before introducing the past tense by adding a past time reference (spoken or intimated): 
"I went to Germany (last week)."

Present perfect continuous: 
An event over a period up to the present. It may continue it may change. 
"I have been visiting Germany." (Over a period of time up until the time of speaking.)

It is easier to see if you check out my tense diagram in which I lay out the verbs in relation to each other.

Obviously we can go into more detail once the students have mastered the headlines...

Teacher at Fachhochschule Westkueste Heide Germany
Perhaps, engage the students in deciding what they want to communicate/understand & then finding the appropriate conjugation. The 'progressive' tenses denote an action, time room, etc.. but can have a 'Plan B' solution...

I have been living in London since 1991.

I moved to London in 1991. I am still here. I plan to stay here.

... communicates the same thing.

Lastly, 'Cobuilds' grammar books are, in my opinion the best. Check them out,

Much success!

English Teacher at ACE ENGLISH MALTA
Firstly, I give the different forms of both tenses.
Secondly, I find that timelines are very helpful because they're visual.

I explain that the Present Perfect Simple is used for: an unspecified time before now (I've seen that movie a hundred times!); change over time (he's grown since the last time!); experiences (I've been to Italy twice. but I've never been to Japan!); and when expecting something (Has she finished her work yet?)

With the Present Perfect Continuous I use: duration until now (I've been teaching at this school for 5 years); recently (I've been feeling ill lately!); recently + evidence (Have you been smoking? Evidence: smell)
Will Snellen likes this

CEO/Head of Programs at Prestige Global Language Centre Ltd.
Saeid try this:
Present Perfect
[has/have + past participle]
We use the Present Perfect to say that an action happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact time is not important. You CANNOT use the Present Perfect with specific time expressions such as: yesterday, one year ago, last week, when I was a child, when I lived in Japan, at that moment, that day, one day, etc. We CAN use the Present Perfect with unspecific expressions such as: ever, never, once, many times, several times, before, so far, already, yet, etc.

The concept of "unspecified time" can be very confusing to English learners. It is best to associate Present Perfect with the following topics:

TOPIC 1 Experience
You can use the Present Perfect to describe your experience. It is like saying, "I have the experience of..." You can also use this tense to say that you have never had a certain experience. The Present Perfect is NOT used to describe a specific event.

TOPIC 2 Change Over Time
We often use the Present Perfect to talk about change that has happened over a period of time.

TOPIC 3 Accomplishments
We often use the Present Perfect to list the accomplishments of individuals and humanity. You cannot mention a specific time.

TOPIC 4 An Uncompleted Action You Are Expecting
We often use the Present Perfect to say that an action which we expected has not happened. Using the Present Perfect suggests that we are still waiting for the action to happen.

TOPIC 5 Multiple Actions at Different Times
We also use the Present Perfect to talk about several different actions which have occurred in the past at different times. Present Perfect suggests the process is not complete and more actions are possible.

Present Perfect Continuous
[has/have + been + present participle]

USE 1 Duration from the Past Until Now
We use the Present Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now. "For five minutes," "for two weeks," and "since Tuesday" are all durations which can be used with the Present Perfect Continuous.

USE 2 Recently, Lately
You can also use the Present Perfect Continuous WITHOUT a duration such as "for two weeks." Without the duration, the tense has a more general meaning of "lately." We often use the words "lately" or "recently" to emphasize this meaning.
Remember that the Present Perfect Continuous has the meaning of "lately" or "recently." If you use the Present Perfect Continuous in a question such as "Have you been feeling alright?", it can suggest that the person looks sick or unhealthy. A question such as "Have you been smoking?" can suggest that you smell the smoke on the person. Using this tense in a question suggests you can see, smell, hear or feel the results of the action. It is possible to insult someone by using this tense incorrectly.
Jill HassanAndré Z. like this
Thank you everybody, regarding Amin's explanation, I do agree with the part that in the progressive tense, the emphasis is on the "continuity" it suggests.

Dear David, it really did help! I also found out that there is a list of verbs that cannot be used in progressive form.

Irena, yes, the key here is that besides the delicate differences in meaning, progressive tense really suggests that it is continued.

Mark, so I get the point. I shouldn't start explaining the difference with verbs like live and work. I'm also grateful for the useful links and I will use them from now on.
 Irena Z. likes this

Dear Krasimira, this seems a perfect starting point! No wonder your students had no difficulty in understanding the two tenses. Thanks

Nelson, you really hit the nail on the head, but I believe that many questions will come up after this, rejecting the first rule which may lead to a little bit of confusion, but of course it is a really good point to set off with.
Anthony, it seems quite fruitful to ask this question after each sentence which further illustrates the difference. Thanks a million

All our senses respond to change. We notice, appreciate, recognise that something is different. We do not learn from constancy. That is when things need to be explained.

For this reason, I disagree with Zehaad. Understanding of the underlying grammar is recognised and internalised by seeing the differences.

I cannot stress how well 'The English Verb' presents this. It is a truly eye-opening book.

<many questions will come up>

Yes, of course. I wonder what the top three questions are. Hopefully the answers will be black and white, with of course further exceptions.

Dear Zaheed,
I really agree with you on this matter. In fact, students do not need something to be explained to them which reminds us teachers of the saying by Benjamin Franklin that 'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn'. For this reason, a variety of tasks are preferrable to try to make them become curious! Curiosity is the key to learning.
However, my friends, today I tried to teach them in a way they find easier and stress-free.
What I did, I started with teaching them simple present using diagrams -as my great friends here proposed- and then I moved to pres. perf. simple with a variety of examples...

Then I gave them some tasks and exercise drills to do in each stage, and after this moved to pres. perf. progressive. It worked almost well and theh were not that much confused, although there was a bit of it anyway. But all in all it worked quite well -of course if you believe that a bit of confusion always happens!

Founder centre Talent
Top Contributor
Use the key words;''the result just now'' for present perfect and ''the result that is in progress' for present perfect progressive.Use time lines to show how the action behaves -focus the students on details and then on the sygnal words.


Where is "the result just now" when I tell someone that "I've not seen that movie" or "I've been to the USA 3 times"?

Is it "I've not seen that movie, so I can't talk to you about my opinion" (me not being able to talk about it is the result)?


"I've been to the USA 3 times, (not spoken: so I am cooler than him / so I can talk with some authority about it / etc.. )" Is the unspoken part the result now?

Of course the "I've lost my keys" example is known, and there is a result of course now.. but I don't find it lends itself in all cases..unless the definition of "result" is broader than the "I can't find my keys NOW" result.

For "I've been living here for 10 years" I agree that I'm still living here if I say that and that it is indeed still in progress, my living here. But what is the 'result' here?

I'm most certainly not trying to criticize your "key words" but I'd like to understand with some examples as I'm curious.


I’ve filled the questionnaire. (the action is complete now or was in the recent past)
I’ve been filling the questionnaire. (an on-going action in the present (and might continue)

Note: it doesn’t take ages to complete a questionnaire, of course unless it runs into several pages, present perfect continuous is still possible if the act is intentionally prolonged for whatever reason)

The police have not caught the thief.
I’ve never seen such a beautiful sunset.
Note: present perfect continuous is not possible here.

I’ve not visited my parents for quite some time now. (= I’m yet to visit)
Note: though the continuous is possible it’s unusual.

I’ve worked here for 10 years.
I’ve been working here for 10 years.
Note: As I see it, the first one focuses on only the ‘completion of duration’ whereas the
second, on the ‘continuity of the activity’.

Teacher of English in Germany
Sorry that I must disagree with you, but ...

First, the verb to fill takes either in or out when used in the context that you posited.

Secondly, the police have not been catching the thieves. Perfectly correct in answer to the question: Why is the crime rate so high?

Thirdly, I have worked here for 10 years is a fact and because of that it is likely to continue into the future. I have been working here ... is connected to now but is temporary and is not continuous. To a native speaker, this sentence would prompt the question: And where is your new job?

Fourthly, you say for the visiting parents sentence that both are possible. I would be interested in hearing what difference in meaning you think there is.

I was thinking about why we should have these differences in understanding of the use of the progressive aspect.

It then occurred to me that it could be that I am a native speaker of British English; and, I believe, that you are a native speaker of Indian English.

You might find the paper at this address useful:

Please forgive me if I have made an incorrect assumption.

I would avoid using the negative until the positive form is cemented in.
"The police have caught the thief." (perfect)an event sometime in the past.
"The police caught the thief (yesterday(inferred or spoken))." (past simple)An event at a time in the past
""The police have been catching the thief."(and now they are coming back) an event in progress over a period of time in the past up until now. (bit tortuous but continues the pattern)

"I’ve not visited my parents for quite some time now."(again with the negative)

'for some time now' is a qualifying statement to identify the time period and so needs to be taken out before constructing the sentences.(I teach my students to strip down sentences when they study them as they change the meaning of the sentence. The suitable extra information can be added afterwards.)
"I have not visited my parents." event in the past (present)
"I did not visit my parents." (past)
"I have not been visiting my parents." event for a period up until now (perfect continuous)
* you can choose your qualifying extra information

last one...
"I have worked here for 10 years." (perfect) (Anthony: I see no problem with it as a sentence. It does suggest a further statement will follow by hey...) an event in the past located in time with the extra information 'for 10 years'
"I worked here for 10 years." (past simple) event completed in the past with a past time reference
"I have been working here for 10 years. a period in the past up until now again the tantalising possibility of more information to come.

The big hit and practice. Get all the forms in place and then practice repeatedly the different forms to cement them in but don't worry if they don't get it all straight away. It is the repetition, context and relationship that will pay dividends in the long run.
I am convinced (in my experience for what that's worth) that if you spend the same amount of time on the set as you would on them individually that each of your students will get better personal results by the end of that time.

I've just realised I missed 'filled' never mind.
I think what I would say is that to practice your new tenses, keep the vocabulary and the structure simple. Use what the students know. Don't learn tenses and new vocabulary at the same time. You can throw new words into the mix when your students know where to stick them... (The same goes for the extra information)

K R Lakshminarayanan, hello, are these examples for us or for students? (and this post is not specifically aimed at yours, but all posts which for such questions offer up 'rules' in a similar way)

I'm not sure even 1% of native speakers would even realize why they use "I've worked here for 10 years" or "I've been working here for 10 years", and they probably use both forms without even giving any thought to 'completion of duration' or 'continuity' (especially for LIVE and WORK) We add this layer of complexity here to help us better understand but I'm not sure telling students this is very helpful. In the WORK example, both can be described as "before now and now" and both mean the same thing by a very high percentage of speakers.

When we say that "the first one focuses on..x" that's the focus we have added to it, not any specific 'focus' added or imagined by the speaker surely?

If someone asks us "Hang on Teech, what's the difference between "I've been working here for 10 years" and "I've worked here for 10 years" " we need to be careful about how we answer and even if we give a 'straight answer' or guide them to find or notice a difference.
Does the example come from "let's learn a tense form with a verb and then compare it with another form with the same verb (which could come from the teacher or the student) ? This is really dangerous as the examples don't come from a context, but we try to add context afterwards to get our message across.

Does the example come from student observation of real examples they've either been presented with or come across? If so, should we try to teach a difference as in your example, or guide them to observe that there's no difference in the context?

A native speaker would sure use "I've been reading this book... it's about x, y, z..and they say that..." because they're still reading it and wouldn't say "I've read this book, it's about x, y, z.." (but would the native speaker be able to tell you this?!)

Of course not all users of English are linguistically minded and are ignorant to what we here on LinkedIn groups are discussing. We like to obsevre language and analyze how it is used, and what we do is valid and interesting and can help us to teach or learn other languages or understand our own better.

But how much of this 'knowledge' should we keep to ourselves? As teachers we need a certain amount of knowledge, but this isn't necessarily what helps students learn, especially if they just need to be users of English and not teachers or linguists. Our extra knowledge 'baggage' should not burden the student, but be used to help the student embrace and move forward with English.

I think the extra knowledge is important so that we can make a complicated subject simple.
The more we understand it ourselves the better we can pass it on...(simply)
David T. likes this

What about the Scottish 'over-use' of the continuous?
What were you wanting?
Or the increasing use of "I'm loving that tune" "I'm liking that show" in British English?

Also I've got an issue with your "Thirdly", the rules you give or statements you make don't work for me.
"Thirdly, I have worked here for 10 years is a fact and because of that it is likely to continue into the future. I have been working here ... is connected to now but is temporary and is not continuous. To a native speaker, this sentence would prompt the question: And where is your new job? "

Both forms are facts. Both will continue (at least a little) into the future. (I haven't met anyone yet who can see into the future, but if you know someone I could do with some lottery numbers :-) )
"I've been working in Paris for 12 years" is only as temporary as any of our stays on this earth are!
For this native speaker, he can use both forms without prompting any form of response.
A response of "and where is your new job?" is more likely to come from body language and context rather than the words themselves.

and I think you were being harsh on KR here:

"The police have not caught the thief.
I’ve never seen such a beautiful sunset.
Note: present perfect continuous is not possible here."

In the context (easily understood to mean the thief is still at large) KR is perfectly right.

This isn't a language-bashing forum, but a place to exchange ideas and learn with each other, right?

Richard, I couldn't agree more!

Very kind. Thank you

"Recently, I've been taking a nap in the afternoon(s). That's why these days I can't sleep at night."

What's the explanation for the use of present perfect continuous here?

And how about the present perfect continuous for indefinite past events:

"Have you ever been shampooing your hair and the water has gone off?

How do we account for this?

Hey Zehaad,
I'd say "before now and now at the moment" is sufficient to describe the use of PPC here.

The second one...bit trickier

I'm washing my hair, can I call you back? (in the process of)
I was washing my hair, so I asked if I could call him back. (in the process of)
Have you ever been washing your hair and ...( in the process of)

I am / I was / I have been...

I'm hungry / I was hungry / I've been hungry

Have you ever been so hungry you bit your fingernails for some relief?

If this is clear, then only ING form is being added to the other example and it too should be clear.

I'd be interested in having your explanation, because I'm sure you have one!


David, "before now and at the moment", does this mean I am sleeping (taking a nap) at the time of speaking (at the moment)?

Yup, your second example is clear. But it is rarely accounted for in grammar books.

Look at the sentence first.

"I have been taking a nap." an event over a period of time in the past.
Now you can look at the extra information. (Don't forget I do this as a completely separate time initially so as not to confuse the students.)
1) When- in the afternoons- Identifies the part of the day that the action takes place
2) Recently- gives a limit to the time period in the past

The second part of the sentence is a (why-unspoken) because(that's why) statement and needs to be looked at separately. Don't confuse the issue with extra sentence forms until you are ready.

"Have you ever been shampooing your hair and the water has gone off?

Again. I teach the headlines before looking at more complicated uses.
Here, (when you are washing you hair.) identifies the time that the main sentence which is for me "The water has gone off."occurs
the 'Have you ever...' form asks if that has ever happened to you.

So when you are washing your hair (time period) "The water has gone off." event at that time in the past. and then in effect, "Has that happened to you?"

Nice Richard!

Now the challenge: Try EXPLAINING that to the average student. Bit like Mathematics, innit?

Explanations aside, what's the best approach to teaching stuff like this in order for it to eventually 'stick', and remembering that teaching is a skill, honed over time through experience and based on knowledge, and not merely explaining?

Or, is language (grammar) learning just a matter of 'knowing the rules'?


At the moment ..the "moment" can be long or short..
When I say "I'm reading a great book at the moment" I'm not necessarily reading it while I'm talking to you, right?


It is:
subject verb object (The verb is the equivalent of an mathematical symbol (+ - x etc)(each verb tense is the equivalent of a different symbol with a different effect.

"I have eaten an apple." (perfect) an event completed sometime in the past. (Have you ever)
"I ate an apple (yesterday)." (past simple) an event + a specific time in the past spoken/implied (you need extra information-when)
"I have been eating an apple."(perfect continuous) and event occurring over a period of time up until the present.

After you master the basic sum you add additional information
(a+b) + c
(s v o) + ei or ei+(a+b) and so on.

So you need to learn the mathematical formula and then substitute your values(vocab) and add extra information in simple blocks.

Big hit and practice see above

@Richard. Like it! You make it seem effortless. Not fair!

1. Thanks for pointing out the error. I agree.

2. It appears that ‘catch’ in the progressive form is correct in the sense that native speakers do use it. But I can only go by what I’ve read and heard so far. Yes.I was wrong in my assumption. Thank you.
It's in such forums as these that nonnative users like me can get to know how English is being used by native speakers.

3. About the use of ‘visit’ in the progressive form, I’ve taken it out of a grammar book which mentioned only the possibility, I don’t remember which one, I’m sorry, it was so long ago.

4. There is no standard Indian English, not yet anyway; traditionally it’s British English that has served as standard for teaching English to learners in India, though the younger generation are leaning more towards American English. Yes, I’m an Indian but the way I speak and write is more British English-based than otherwise. I learnt this through reading and listening. And I’m glad to say I seem to have evolved a style that is Lakshminarayanan’s.

5. Thanks for the link, I'll soon take a look.

Thanks, your use of the progressive form supports Anthony’s and I’ve learnt something today.

1. The example sentences are for just illustrating a point.
2. The difference between the two ‘work’ examples I’ve gathered from grammar books. Now I understand something different. Thank you.
3. Thanks again with regard to ‘catch’.

‘I was thinking about why we should have these differences in understanding of the use of the progressive aspect.

It then occurred to me that it could be that I am a native speaker of British English; and, I believe, that you are a native speaker of Indian English.’

Note: If I may, it’s either ‘in understanding the use...’ or ‘in the understanding of the use...’, isn’t it? please, this isn't tit for tat; you noticed an error, so did I.

‘Please forgive me if I have made an incorrect assumption.’
Your assumption isn’t incorrect about my being a native Indian.

This is not a defence, only a clarificatory gesture.

I understand your explanation and appreciate it; yet, I’d like to say a few words about the phrase ‘Indian English’, you’ve used in your comment, in order to remove any misconceptions that might exist about what Indian English actually is or is not.

Initially I thought of addressing this to you privately, but decided to put it as part of this discussion because co-participants here and others who might be reading it out of sheer interest may be expecting a response.

White people tend to use ‘Indian English’ as an umbrella term to refer to the ‘new’ English spoken in India, but there’s no Indian English, there are only localised varieties of Indian English just as British English and American English have their own, I believe at least as far as sound production goes; and there’s no standard Indian English just as there’s no standard British English and American English if I’m to believe what I’ve seen and read in some of the discussions on LinkedIn. As to which discussion(s), I don’t remember offhand. There is another thread discussing a topic which goes something like ‘Is it a teacher of English or an English teacher?’ where there was a wide difference of opinion among ‘native’ English contributors about which one is right and which one, not.

The term ‘Indianism’ is a misnomer and has somehow come into existence and is persistently being used to how generally ALL Indians speak English.

The so-called ‘Indianisms’ as mentioned in the paper entitled "Are you wanting a cup of coffee?" Overuse of the progressive aspect in Indian English by Silke h. Schubert—which you gave as a link as ‘useful’ (thank you, but what I’m saying here is what the paper contains in essence) are the ways how English is spoken in the Hindi belt of India, not elsewhere (for instance, your good name, please), generally speaking, and form part of a variety of Indian English and so cannot be termed ‘Indianisms’. The Bengalis may have their own variety, the Malayalee’s (Kerala, a South Indian State) have their own, the Tamils in Tamil Nadu have their own, and naturally the regional languages play a part. Silke's paper does refer to a variety or two in passing.

As to the differences in my not understanding the ‘progressive aspect’, as you may have seen, even natives here interpret the sentence in question differently.


Experienced English teacher (individuals and groups), owner at CHATTERBOX
There have been quite a few interesting explanations so I am not going to repeat all that. I have found a number of examples wich clearly show the difference between PRESENT PERFECT CONTINUOUS & SIMPLE.

* Ann's clothes are covered in paint. SHE HAS BEEN PAINTING THE CEILING. This sentence is "Present Perfect Continuous". We are interested in the actvity. It does not matter whether something has been finished or not. In this example, the activity (painting of the ceiling) has not been finished.

* The ceiling was white. Now it is blue. SHE HAS PAINTED THE CEILING. This sentence is "Present Perfect Simple". Here, the important thing is that something has been done. "Has Painted"is a completed action. We are interested in the result of the actvity ( the painted ceiling), not the activity itself..

A few more examples of "Present Perfect Continuous".

* My hands are dirty. I HAVE BEEN REPAIRING THE CAR.
It is nice to see you again. WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING SINCE WE LAST MET?
Where have you been. HAVE YOU BEEN PLAYING TENNIS?

Let me illustrate the difference by a few examples of "Resultative Present Perfect"
* The car is OK now. I HAVE REPAIRED IT.
*Where is the book I gave you? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH IT?

We use "Present Perfect Continuous to ask or say HOW LONG ( for an activity that is still happening):
* Mary is still writing letters. SHE HAS BEEN WRITING LETERS ALL DAY.

We use Present Perfect Simple to ask or say HOW MUCH, HOW MANY or HOW MANY TIMES (completed actions):

It goes without saying that, as has already been stated by Irena, sometimes they are interchangeable, and then Continuous emphasises the duration.
Very good explanation can be found in "ENGLISH GRAMMAR IN USE" published by Cambridge University Press.

I'd appreciate help with these:
Mine: The police have not caught the thief. Have the police caught the thief yet?
Anthony’s: The police have not been catching the thieves. Why is the crime rate so high?

I said the progressive isn’t possible in sentences of the sample kind. It doesn’t follow that the progressive isn’t possible at all. Besides, the second example is an answer to a question very different from the first one. In first example, the message is about one SPECIFIC individual whereas in the second one, the message is about a GENERAL condition.

Aren’t these conclusions right?
Mine: I’ve not visited my parents for quite some time now.
Richard’s: I have not been visiting my parents.
My example merely states a FACT true up to the time of speaking. Isn’t there an additional message: ‘though I’ve been meaning to’ implied?

Aren’t these conclusions right?

Mine: I’ve worked here for 10 years
Richard’s: I have been working here for 10 years.
It’s not necessary that a statement should follow these, is it?

<these conclusions right>

All these examples are correct in standard American English, more apparently in the later ones.
I think the discussion involves McDonald's 'I'm loving it' more than anything. It's starting to make sense.
Tatyana Z. likes this

Richard Tomplin,your example with the police is the best!

Freelance tutor and trainer
Well thank you kindly. I blusheth.

focus on the duration of the progressive of the action

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