present perfect simple vs present perfect continuous

Today in class, first thing we’ve done, we talked about creative activities and creative people (Vocabulary Lesson 1 Unit 5) by doing exercises 1-3, p. 62 (last week, I’m sure they did Lead-in exercises 1-4, p. 61, where in 2a you were able to learn some useful vocabulary to express which activities you do in your leisure time)

The teacher has also explained us the usage and differences between two English verb tenses: Present Perfect Simple and Present Perfect Continuous. These Grammar issues are part of Lesson 1, Unit 5: Spare Time, Student’s Book, Total English, Longman. They likely started Unit 5 last week. I didn’t attended on Wednesday and on Friday.

After the explanation, we did Grammar exercises 4-6, p. 63. We also did an exercise which is not in Student’s Book or Workbook in which we used both tenses. There were two pieces of paper. The first and big one had twelve small pictures representing situations involving actions and results. We had to write two sentences. Each sentence should use one tense. The first sentence used to represent the action which started in the past and has continued up until now and the second sentence the result. The second and small piece of paper had phrase pairs about one of the pictures (which one had to match with) but only of some of them. We asked our partner about “What has been happening?” and “What has happened?” in pictures we didn’t have a phrase pair.

Finally the teacher assigned us some homework: exercises 9-11, p. 64.


1 comentario en “present perfect simple vs present perfect continuous

  1. 5.1 Are you creative?

    Grammar: Present Perfect Simple vs Present Perfect Continuous
    Can do: suggest and respond to ideas

    Pictures: Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, Louis Amstrong, Boris Spassky, Stephen Hawking, Salvador Dalí, The Brontë Sisters


    1. Discuss

    1 Do you do anything creative in your spare time?

    Well, if going trekking at weekends is creative, certainly I do. I also used to play chess but now I’ve lost the habit. I’d like to do some more creative activities like drawing, painting, cooking or playing a musical instrument. But I’m not gifted for such activities. Maybe I’ll try cooking in the near future. I’m thinking about taking a cooking course.

    2 Do you know any creative people?

    Hm, let me think about it … Oh yes, I do! My neighbour, who is retired, is an excellent painter. He started this activity when he retired. He took a painting course and bought the tools of the trade. He has been painting pictures since then. I’ve got several of them hanging in my house!

    3 What do you know about the people in the photos? How do they/did they show their creativity?

    Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn: They were classic ballet dancers. I know them by name but I have never seen them dancing.

    Louis Armstrong: He has been a very famous American jazz trumpeter and singer with a peculiar voice.

    Boris Spassky is a famous chess player. I know he has been champion of the world. I don’t know where and when. I don’t know where he is from either. Maybe he is Russian.

    Stephen Hawking is a British physicist and mathematician. He is famous for his theories about the origin of the Universe and the Black holes. He has written best-seller books about those matters.

    Salvador Dalí was a Spanish surrealist painter. He also made sculpture, and photography. He even collaborated with Walt Disney on a short cartoon.

    The Brontë Sisters
    were prolific and skilful writers at a time when women often were not well educated. I remember one of their novels, Wuthering Heights, which I’ve read some time ago.


    a. Tick tha activities taht you have done in your life:

    1 written a poem/song
    2 invented and told a story (tick)
    3 thought of an original solution to a problem (tick)
    4 made something with your hands
    5 painted a picture (tick)
    6 thought of an idea to improve conditions at work (tick)
    7 decorated a room
    8 changed the rules of a game in order to improve it
    9 invented a new recipe
    10 entertained young children for several hours

    b. Find someone in your class who has done these. Ask follow-up questions:

    – When did you do it?
    – Where were you?

    c. Tell other students what you discovered.

    NOTE: This exercise, we did it as the teacher ask us the a questions and some of us answered with the details. One of the class partners who entertained young children explained us how did it, by making songs, telling short stories, etc. The teacher herself told short stories to their children (she has three, now all grown up) she said.

    In 3. a and b, we listened an audio clip where three people talked about their own creativity. The first question to answer was:

    a. which things from Ex. 2 do they mention?

    A: make something with your hands (origami) by speaker one; invented a new recipe … by speaker three; and entertained young children for several hours, by speaker two.

    b. Listen again. Who says these phrases:

    1 I’ve made lots of beautiful things. __Speaker 1__
    2 I’ve been playing with my three children. That’s why the room’s a mess. __Speaker 3__
    3 I’ve made up lots of may own recipes. __Speaker 2__
    4 We’ve invented a new game. __Speaker 3__
    5 I’ve been taking classes … for three months. __Speaker 1__
    6 I’ve been trying to open my own restaurant for the last few years. __Speaker 2__



    a Look at the sentences en Ex. 3b. Which ones are Present Perfect Simple and which ones are Present Perfect Continuous?

    b Read and complete the Active Grammar box by choosing the correct alternatives.

    Active Grammar

    We use the Present Perfect tenses for actions which began in teh past and continua now.

    We use the Present Perfect Continuous:

    1 To emphasise that the action __is/isn’t__ finished.

    I’ve been trying to start my own business. (I’m still now)

    2 To talk about a recently started/finished activity with present results. We can see the results.

    We‘ve been running.. (I’m hot and tired)

    3 To emphasise the activity (not the result), often with How long …?

    How long have you been reading this book? (focus on the activity)

    How many chapters have you read? (focus on the result)

    Present Perfect Continuous Form: have or has + been/being + -ing

    c Look at sentences 2 and 6 in Ex. 3b. Which rules (1,2 or 3) do they fit?

    2 I’ve been playing with my three children. That’s why the room’s a mess. => rule 2
    6 I’ve been trying to open my own restaurant for the last few years. => rule 1

    NOTE: en pp. 73 there is a pretty good reference about Grammar and key vocabulary

    5. Complete the sentences using teh Present Perfect or Present Perfect Continuous from the verbs in brackets.

    1 Oh no! You (break) __have broken__ the window!
    2 I (not wash) __haven’t washed__ the dishes yet. I’ll do them later.
    3 She (write) __have been writing__ her novel this afternoon.
    4 How long __have__ you (wait) __been waiting__ for the bus?
    5 I (not see) __haven’t seen__ Marta this morning. May be she’s ill.
    6 __How long have__ you (run) __been running__? You look tired.
    7 Those children (eat) __have been eating__ chocolate all day. That’s why they feel sick!
    8 How long __have you __had__ your mobile phone?

    6. The sentences below use the wrong verb tenses. Work in pairs and say why the underlined tenses are wrong.

    1 A: Why are you so tired?
    B: __I’ve read__ Underworld this morning.

    The action is finished BUT it is a recently finished action AND we can see the results SO

    __I’ve been reading__ Underworld this morning.

    2 A: Why is your hair wet?

    B: __I’ve swum__.

    The action is a process, it has endured a while. It is finished. It’s been a recently finished activity so we can see the results now SO

    __I’ve been swimming__.

    3 A: Does she know Dave?

    B: Yes, __she’s been knowing__ him all her life.

    “To know” is a point action. It’s not a process. She knew him in a pinpoint time in her life. There is a misleading clue: “all her life”. SO

    Yes, __she’s known__ him all her life.

    4 A: How many exams __have you been taking__?

    B: Two. I have one more next week.

    This is difficult. Focus on activity? Focus on the result? The action is not finished? (to take an exam) There is no mention to present results. An exam is an activity started and finished in the past. The goal is a number of activities done in the past (how many) SO:

    How many exams __have you taken__?

    5 A: __I’ve been giving up smoking!__

    B: That’s great. Do you feel healthier?

    “to give up” is a pinpoint action in the past.

    __I’ve given up smoking!__

    6 A: How long __have you learned__ Chinese?

    B: About two months.

    The action isn’t finished yet. Focus on the activity (how long) SO

    How long __have you been learning__ Chinese?


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