Tag Archives: present perfect

have been being – present perfect continuous – passive voice

Thanks to Carlos Julio Salazar for this question

Is this correct in English? –

My mum has been being treated by the same doctor for four years

The answer is yes, but it’s the kind of sentence that nobody would use in reality. It’s too long, too heavy. So what we should say instead? Using the present perfect simple seems perfectly fine to me:

My mum has been treated by the same doctor for four years

Because we have included the time, ‘for four years’ we understand that the action is not finished. If you really want to use the continuous, you should reformulate with another verb – “been being” just doesn’t sound right.

My mum has been receiving treatment from the same doctor for four years

Or why not use the active voice:
The same doctor has been treating my mum for four years

Conclusion: there are many things that might be correctly grammatically speaking, but they are necessarily the best way to communicate!

Present Perfect: Simple or Continuous?

What’s the difference between the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous?

Most native speakers would have no idea how to explain the difference between the two forms – they just use them instinctively.

Look at my examples:
“I’ve painted the kitchen”
The present perfect is used (here) for a completed action. We would understand that painting is finished and the kitchen has a fresh coat of paint NOW (that’s why it’s called the PRESENT perfect)

“I’ve been painting the kitchen”
Is the painting finished? We don’t know. It might be finished or it might not. That’s not the important thing when we use the continuous form.
If I extend this sentence it becomes clear why I use the continuous form:
“Dinner isn’t ready because I’ve been painting the kitchen”

“I know I’ve got paint on my face, I’ve been painting the kitchen”

Most of my students are comfortable with using the present simple and the present progressive and can explain the difference between the two. I sometimes tell them that if they make a sentence in the present simple, it would be logical to use the simple form in the perfect:


“I live in Paris” (present simple)
“I’ve lived in Paris” (present perfect simple)
“At the moment I’m living in Montpellier” (present continuous)
– so you would say:
“I’ve been living in Montpellier for two months” (present perfect continuous)

another example:
What do you do?
– I’m an English teacher
How long have you been an English teacher?
– for twelve years

What are you doing?
– I’m working on my new book
How long have been writing a book?
– for a long time – I’ll probably never finish it!

three uses for past participles

So, you’ve learned all your irregular verbs by heart, and now you’re wondering what you’re supposed to do with the third form, the past participle! Watch the video to find out what they are for…

Haven’t seen you for ages!

This conversation uses the present perfect to discuss news. We use the present perfect to describe actions that have ended recently or are still taking place – but there is always some connection with the present (a result, consequence)

Hey, how are you? I haven’t seen you for ages,

I’m fine. I’ve been quite busy these last few weeks

So what have you been up to?

Well you know, I’ve had a lot of work and on top of that, my Mom’s been sick, so I’ve been spending my weekends over at her place.

Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. How long has she been sick?

Quite a while. She’s going to have an operation next month and hopefully that will sort her out.

Well I hope so. Give her my regards, won’t you?

To give (someone) my regards : Embrasse / Salue (quelqu’un) pour moi
To sort (something or someone): régler un problème

chanson: The Beatles – In My Life

“in my life” is one of the best uses of the present perfect: it’s used to talk about experiences:

In my life, I’ve lived in three different countries
In my life, I’ve seen thousands of films
In my life, I’ve had several different jobs
In my life, I’ve written a book
In my life, I’ve worked as a musician

My life isn’t finished, so I use the present perfect, which is a present tense, not a past tense. It relates all the things that have happened(present perfect) up to this present time.

Here are the song lyrics to ‘in my life’:

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more