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It is ok to say "I have been buying cakes at this shop for 10 years"? because I can buy cakes many times at that shop.

But what about buying just 1 thing?

is it wrong to say "I have been buying this house for 10 years"?

Case 1: I paid off the house price completely 10 years ago.

Case 2: I have paid the house price by installment since 10 years ago until now.

Can that sentence be right in any cases?

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  • "I have been buying this house for 10 years" might sort of describe a mortgage, but nobody phrases it that way. "Buying the house" refers to the sales transaction in which title transferred from the seller to you. Since then, you have been paying off a loan, not really buying a house. Your case 2 isn't normally how a house is purchased. There is sometimes a "rent with the option to buy" arrangement, where part of your rent goes towards an eventual purchase, but that isn't really installments. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Mar 31, 2017 at 6:57
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    A mortgage is the typical transaction; you borrow money as a loan that you pay back after you have title to the house. Because buying a house involves transfer of the title, the only way you could buy in installments would be some private arrangement between you and the seller. Case 1 would not describe your title question. Case 2 has some grammatical errors, but it is basically consistent with the idea expressed in the title. Your new sentence about cakes is fine.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 31, 2017 at 6:57
  • Recurrent purchases aside, the only contexts in which we would use the word buying to refer to a single purchase transaction would be one that was tongue-in-cheek, for example, if regulatory issues regarding monopolies should cause the purchase of a major corporation to drag out over several years: Global Hegemony Inc has been buying Acme Corporation for several years now; or if we're expressing an intention: I'm buying a new car when I've saved up enough money. Where is she buying her car? -- From the dealership in Springfield.
    – TimR
    Mar 31, 2017 at 14:07

1 Answer 1

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Buying is seen as an event rather than a continuous activity, so you can't use present perfect continuous in relation to buying a single house. You could use it if you were professionally involved in the purchase of houses, even though it's a number of separate activities over a long period of time:

I have been buying houses for 10 years

When you want to describe the purchase of your own house, you would use past simple to describe the purchase, and present perfect continuous to describe the payment by instalments:

I bought this house ten years ago and I have been paying for it ever since

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  • But it is ok to say "I have been buying cakes at this shop for 10 years"
    – Tom
    Mar 31, 2017 at 6:54
  • Certainly. Whether it's cakes or (as in the case of the professional house buyer) houses, if you are talking about a number of separate purchases over a long period of time, you can and should use present perfect continuous.
    – JavaLatte
    Mar 31, 2017 at 7:00

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