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If I ask someone this question:

What have you been doing in the last two hours?

is it the same if I asked: What were you doing two hours ago?

If it is different, what is the difference can you explain?

Thanks

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  • Also "What have you been doing in the last two hours?" is quite accusatory in tone in my opinion. Something a teacher would say to a child, or something a boss would say to an employee if they haven't been working.
    – user11825
    Feb 6, 2017 at 16:52
  • I think the accusatory nature is heavily dependent on circumstance and tone of voice. A teacher can ask what a student has been doing for the last two hours without making an accusation of it, using a properly gentle tone of voice.
    – Steve-O
    Feb 6, 2017 at 18:55
  • 2
    Please stop creating new accounts and asking the same question over and over again.
    – J.R.
    Feb 6, 2017 at 19:46

2 Answers 2

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What have you been doing in the last two hours?

Here you are asking your listener what they were doing starting from two hours ago until the present. The range is the emphasis here.

What were you doing two hours ago?

And here you are asking your listener what they were doing exactly or approximately two hours ago (but focused on the moment in time, not a range), with the implication that the action has stopped or been completed since then.

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Case 1: "What have you been doing for the last two hours" refers to a two hour range of time, up to the present moment.

Case 2: "what were you doing two hours ago" refers to a specific moment, two hours ago.

E.g. if the questions are asked at 10am:

Case 1 is equivalent to asking "what were you doing from 8 to 10am"?

Case 2 is equivalent to asking "what were you doing at exactly 8am"?