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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 24th, 2010, 03:11 am
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Default difference

hello every body,
I have a question about the difference between present perfect and present perfect continuous. when I read the example of these two forms I feel no difference between them. all of them mean that sth has started from past and goes on to present .can any one help me with this matter? I'll appreciate it.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 24th, 2010, 06:08 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: difference

The perfect basically has three uses :

1. to describe events which are true in both the past and present. Here there is no difference between the simple and continuous forms : I´ve lived here for 3 years = I´ve been living here for three years

2. to describe past events which take place in a past to present time frame
(this week, today etc). Here the simple suggests a completed event and the continuous and on-going, unfinished event : I´ve read "War and Peace" this week vs I´ve been reading "War and Peace" this week.

3. to express past events with a present result.
Here the simple suggests a single action, whereas the continous suggests repeated actions : I´ve cut my finger! vs Someone has been cutting pictures out of this book. You can see the difference clearly if you convert the first example to the continuous : I´ve been cutting my finger. Notice here that it is a meaning distinction, not "grammar" - someone who was masochistic, self harming or completely mad might well do and say it. Most of us wouldn´t.
This one is tricky though because sometimes the "repeated actions" can be seen by the speaker as a single event, and s/he will therefore choose the simple. Compare I´ve cut my nails (seen as a single completed event) with I´ve been cutting my nails (seen as completed, but as a repeated sequence of actions).

As ever, the grammar gives us the opportunity to make meaning distinctions. Which meaning you wish to express is up to you.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Dec 25th, 2010, 10:49 am
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Default Re: difference

susan, I've remembered an example from a textbook:

-Why are your eyes red?
-I've been crying.

Is it possible to answer: "I've cried"?
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Unread Dec 26th, 2010, 05:14 am
Sue
 
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Default Re: difference

It´s always possible - but here very unlikely. Notice that here we´re dealing with the third meaning, past action with present result, so the choice is between seeing what has happened as a single event or an on-going sequence of actions. If it were just an explanation of the red eyes, then it´s likely the person would want to express "crying" as something that was repeated - ie went on for a time. Your eyes don´t get red if they just fill with tears momentarily. So the continuous form is the most likely choice ...
-Why are your eyes red?
-I've been crying.


As I said, the choice of verb will depend on the meaning you want to express and that will depend on the context. In this case, I can´t think of a context where the person who´d been crying would want to express it as a single event rather than something on-going/repeated, so I think that 999 times out of 1000 the continuous form would be chosen. But as always, it´s not due to some abstract "rule" but because the continuous form expresses the meaning that the speaker would be most likely to want to express in that situation.

Change to a slightly different situation and you can see how the speaker can easily choose to express either one meaning or the other. Imagine a teenager arriving home from school and his mother talking to him :
- Why are you so out of breath?
- I´ve been running.

(the speaker sees/expresses it as an on-going/repeated sequence of actions)

- Why are you so out-of breath?
- I´ve just run all the way from the bus stop.

(the speaker expresses it as a single event)

Notice that the situation is exactly the same. It´s just a matter of how the speaker "sees" the action and therefore which form s/he has to use to express that meaning.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 1st, 2011, 06:38 pm
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Default Re: difference

The difference between the present perfect and the present perfect continuous is very small. There are many times when the two tenses can be used interchangeability. There are differences in the structure of the tenses. The two tenses use the auxiliary verb "have". The present perfect-ed is added to the main verb and the present perfect continuous-ing is added to the main verb and the verb "to be" is also used.
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