We normally use the present perfect continuous for this:

She has been living in Liverpool all her life.

Why can't we use:

She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

Still, if we do can, what is the difference?

  • I would tend not to use it for all her life. In that example I am much happier with She has lived.... But if it were She has been living in Liverpool for the last three years, I feel happier with that.
    – WS2
    Oct 10, 2016 at 12:31
  • What bewilders me most is that the example was taken from the "learnenglish.britishcouncil" site. This is the main reason I've written here.
    – Lisbeth.f.Salander
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:47
  • Possible duplicate of Present Perfect vs Present perfect continuous Oct 10, 2016 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


Both sentences are correct:

  1. She has been living in Liverpool all her life.

  2. She has lived in Liverpool all her life.

The difference between these two is where you the speaker wish to place your focus:

  • With has been living in the first sentence, the focus is to show an uninterrupted activity starting in the past and continuing up to the present.

  • With has lived in the second sentence, the focus is not on the activity of living, but on the fact the activity began at an unspecified time in the past and continues until the present. The focus is the fact that it began in the past at an unspecified time.

In some situations, this focus aspect is very important:

  1. She has played tennis this week.
    (During the week, she played tennis, the week is not finished but the actual time is not specified and she is not playing tennis now while the week is still not over.)

  2. She has been playing tennis week.
    (The activity started in the past and is still going on in the present at the time of speaking. The focus is the actual activity and that it is still going on.)

ɴᴏᴛᴀ ʙᴇɴᴇ: None of this has anything to do with British English versus American English.

  • Thanks for your answer; I think it is a good one. I've tried to reformat it a bit to make it all easier to read. I think what you are saying here is that one version emphasize that the event began in the past while the other emphasizes that the event continues through the present. Is that what you meant?
    – tchrist
    Oct 10, 2016 at 15:35
  • No, that is not what I meant. They both continue in the present. The difference is one of focus. The focus of 1) is that it began in the unspecified past. The focus of the other is the activity as ongoing and continuing into the present. One is more about when, the other about what. Both continue in the present.
    – Lambie
    Oct 10, 2016 at 15:58

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