Present perfect continuous or present continuous?

English grammar questions, answered by Alan

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Howtosay
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Present perfect continuous or present continuous?

Post by Howtosay »

Hello, Alan! Could you pleaase explain the difference between those two tenses? For example,

I am working on the project. - I started to work on the project in the past (a week ago, for instance), I am working on the project now, and I will continue to work on the project.

I has been working on the project. - I started to work on the project in the past (a week ago, for instance), I am working on the project now, and I will continue to work on the project.

Am I right? Are both variants possible? What is a guidance to choose between those two tenses?
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Alan
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Re: Present perfect continuous or present continuous?

Post by Alan »

Yes, although it is, of course, 'I have (not 'has') been working'.

Of course, both of your descriptions are accurate and, to that extent, one could argue that there is no significant actual difference between the two forms.

However, there is a potential difference, which is that, regarding the second, the length of time for which you have been engaged in the act in question (here, working on something) can be explicitly stated by means of a modifying for/since-phrase (or, at least, implied, if such a phrase has already been established as the context of the conversation). Even if I were to begin a conversation by eliciting the sentence in response to a vague "So, what have you been doing?", my question would still naturally be understood by the addressee as implying something such as 'what have you been doing recently?' (i.e. since a little while ago), 'what have you been doing since we last met?', or whatever the addressee may consider probable or appropriate in light of the circumstances/our relationship, etc.

In the case of the present continuous, however, no such specification can be made within the confines of the verb phrase itself, and thus the focus is entirely on the content of the act and not on the time of its inception.
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