I had always known that we generally use the present perfect simple for things that we do for the first time. Here is a classic example from the English Grammar in Use self-study book by Cambridge University Press:

We say: lt's the (first) time something has happened. For example:

Don is having a driving lesson. It's his first one.
It's the first time he has driven a car.

But now I found the following in a supplementary exercises book:

Tick (✓) the sentence which means the same as the first sentence.

This is the first time I've been skiing.

  • I've been skiing once before.
  • I haven't been skiing for a long time.
  • I've never been skiing before.

This suggests that we can use the present perfect continuous in some cases for things that we do for the first time but it seems like both of the examples are about an ongoing activity which makes both of them look very similar even though tenses used are different.

When do we prefer the present perfect continuous to present perfect simple and vice versa for things that we do for the first time?

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    That's also a present perfect, with been being the past participle. You could replace been with gone there.
    – user3395
    Jun 17, 2018 at 10:57
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    The skiing example is quite involved. We say for the present: to go skiing: I'm going skiing today. The simple past then is: went skiing or past continuous forms are: have been skiing and have been going skiing. For the activity. But: He's skiing well today, isn't he? That is just the verb to ski, and not the verb to go skiing.
    – Lambie
    Jun 17, 2018 at 13:52
  • @Lambie What's your point?
    – user3395
    Jun 17, 2018 at 14:05
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    I got it. Here "have been skiing" is not the past perfect continuous of "ski", but rather the past perfect simple of "go skiing". Thank you! Should one of you post an answer I will accept it.
    – Karolini
    Jun 17, 2018 at 15:13
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    The best way would be; This is the first time I've skied. or: This is the first time I've been skiing. Thanks for working that out for me! You did indeed get it. I kept writing it out and getting confused. :)
    – Lambie
    Jun 17, 2018 at 16:59

1 Answer 1


Common collocations are: to go skiing, to go swimming, etc. Thus, we say:

  • I go swimming twice a week.
  • We went skiing yesterday.
  • They've gone skiing, but they should be back soon.
  • I've been skiing three times this year.
  • This is the first time I've been skiing.

In the last two examples been was used as the past participle of go. We use it to mean that somebody has gone somewhere and come back.

Here, therefore, have been skiing is not the present perfect continuous form of ski, but rather the present perfect simple of go skiing.

Special credits go to @Lambie and @userr2684291 for leading me in the right direction (see comments below the main post).

  • Compare to the sentence, "This is the first time I've been wrong," which has exactly the same structure as your example, without the confusion of an -ing word. Jun 18, 2018 at 18:20
  • @CanadianYankee Yeah, but in order to identify the structure (i.e. the present perfect simple) I have to understand where -ing word comes from. Here I failed to do so.
    – Karolini
    Jun 18, 2018 at 20:14

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