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I would like to know if there is a difference between

I have just talked to John about this

and

I have just been talking to John about this?

Does the progressive mean the conversation lasted longer or the conversation was more chatty and maybe not as formal? Or is there no difference? In both cases the conversation has just stopped.

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"I have just been talking ..." does not sound idiomatic to me. The problem is the word "just" which implies a singular action, now complete. It seems more natural to use the past progressive:

I was just talking to John about this.

"Was just talking" does mean (more or less) the same thing as "I have just talked", although as usual the progressive brings a sense of concurrency, as if you are about to talk about events that were happening at the same time:

I was just talking to John about this, and he was saying that it would be better to hold off on the party until after our final exams

The present perfect progressive is used to talk about ongoing events that continue up until the present moment:

I have been talking to John about this every day, but he's still against investing any money in Bitcoin.

(Edit) Other English speakers may feel "I have just been talking" is fine, but it's not something I would say, and I would want to correct the speaker if I heard someone say it. I'm interested to hear other opinions.

  • How about the use of the present perfect continuous for an action that has recently stopped? – anouk Mar 20 '18 at 20:04
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    I come into someone's office, having just(= in the immediate past) had a conversation with John about something. I say "I have just been talking to John about this...". That is not only idiomatic, I heard every day when I worked in an office. In what way does @Andrew think it is not? – JeremyC Mar 20 '18 at 20:07
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    @JeremyC Maybe it's just the natural progression of language toward informality, but to me it sounds odd. If I had a conversation with someone in the recent past, it seems more articulate to use the past progressive to describe what was happening just a moment ago. But if it's used, then you're right, and I can't definitively say it's wrong. I'll edit. – Andrew Mar 20 '18 at 20:14
  • @anouk, do you mean without the "just"? "I have been talking to John about this" might be fine -- but again, to my ears it sounds like you're describing a repeating event, and not a recently completed event. – Andrew Mar 20 '18 at 20:16
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    Native English speaker here: I've heard I've just been talking to … so many times in my life I couldn't count if I tried. It's definitely "idiomatic". Perhaps not to a Native American speaker? – Will Crawford Mar 20 '18 at 23:17
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I have just talked to John about this, and I would rather not tell you when I actually did talk to him about this because the matter is confidential. It might have been a few minutes ago or a few hours ago or even months ago. The point is that you should know that I will not tell you now when that was.

VERSUS

I have just been talking to John about this over the past weeks [months, days]. Of course, we have now stopped discussing it or I wouldn't have said it like this, you know. Right now, as I speak to you, my discussing this with John is over. But we did discuss it starting at some point in the past right up to the present when I am now discussing it with you. Our discussion went on and on up until now.

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