There is something I can't understand. For example in the first sentence we see that he is watching tv but it is clear that he didnt started watch tv at the time of saying, it is clear he was watching tv before the time of saying and may be continue. Present perfect cont. also means that I started to watch tv and I am still watching. So what is the difference of using present perfect cont. and present cont.

  1. I am watching TV
  2. I have been watching TV

1 Answer 1


The perfect tense is used to imply relative action. The present perfect continuous tense implies the action is ongoing relative to the present moment.

I am watching TV (this is what I am doing now)

I have been watching TV (this is what I have been doing for some time before now)

Unless you really need to imply the action takes place relative to something else, you should not use the perfect tense.

I am eating potato chips (simple, this is just what I am doing)

I have been eating potato chips all day (relative, implies the action has been going on for some time -- perhaps too long, or too much, or also perhaps that I've had nothing other than potato chips)

Again, the difference is the relative action. If I relate something to the present moment, I can add significant nuance to the sentence. For example:

My son has been playing video games all morning.

This implies that I think, perhaps, he should do something else now.

  • Thanks for answer. But as you know, they say that u can say' I am sick now'. In this sentence it is clear being sick began some time before now and it may continue so I can say the same with perfect ' I have been sick' so what is difference which one should I use ?
    – d.alex
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 20:43
  • 1
    "I have been sick" is present perfect, not present perfect continuous, but otherwise ... "I am sick" indicates your present condition, with no time frame. "I have been sick" indicates the condition has been true "for some time up to now". It also may no longer be true.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 20:46
  • so is it like that ? if someone is saying that' I am sick' I should understand he is sick now , may not be valid 5 minutes before and later. But if he is saying that 'I have been sick' he means that he was sick some time before and he is still sick or he keeps effect of being sick ?
    – d.alex
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 21:08
  • 1
    @b.east Well, yes, but you have to use common sense too. Context is important. If someone who is otherwise healthy says "Oh no I am sick" after eating a meal, it means they suddenly became nauseated (and you'd better find them a toilet). But if they look like they have a cold, even if they say "I am sick" it means they've been sick for some time.
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 21:14
  • 1
    @b.east Also in English we often "match" the person we're talking to. If someone asks, "How are you" and I've been sick, I can respond "I am sick". But if they ask, "How have you been?" I can respond, "I have been sick."
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 2, 2017 at 21:18

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