In a video I was watching the person said:

I am working on my new book and hope to complete it soon.

But at that moment, it is obvious, he wasn't writing it; he explaining phrasal verbs. Wouldn't it make much more sense to use the present perfect continuous instead of the present continuous, since it is obvious that he began to write it in the past and has been continuing till now?

  • I realize "more sense" is a commonplace phrase, but think about what it actually means. Are we always required to make the most sense possible? The speaker there is saying that his work on the book is ongoing. It might make more sense to say "I have been working for some time now on my new book and hope to complete it soon" but only if that is true. Feb 1 '19 at 11:16

We often use the present progressive (progressive aspect is another name for the continuous aspect) not to refer to something that we are literally doing right now, but to something that we are broadly doing on an ongoing basis.

The perfect continuous, "I have been working on my new book", would indicate that they weren't doing it right at that moment, but also wouldn't give any indicate that they would work on it again. "I will be working on my my new book" indicates that they will work on it in future, but not that they are working on it now, nor that they have already worked on it at all. Using the present progressive indicates, depending on context, that they have been doing so, and that they will be doing so, and that they might be doing it wright now.

You can't use it for every verb in every context. "I am running" would usually suggest that you really are running right now. However, if the question was "what are you doing for exercise?" - also a case where the present progressive is used but doesn't mean literally right now - you might answer "I am running" even though you're currently sat in a chair in your doctor's office. Or you might say "I'm running a lot" without it being an answer to a question, just as a general statement, and the addition of 'a lot' indicates that you are speaking in general, not about right now.

The examples that come most easily to mind are all to do with pieces of work that don't get finished in one sitting. "I'm carving a replica of Michelangelo's David", "we are developing new policies", and so on. However, I can't think of any verb that would never be used in the present progressive to refer to an ongoing process that isn't literally going on at the time of the statement.


"I have been working on my new book" could very well mean you have been working on the book starting in the past, continuing to the present even if you are not writing at this exact moment:

What have you been doing lately ? I have been working on my new book for the last 5 months.

If you say: "I have been working on my book all morning" you might still be working on the book if it is still morning, so I don't agree with Ben "I have been working on my new book", would indicate that they weren't doing it right at that moment.

"I am working on my new book" means you are currently, at this time in your life, working on the book.

  • Sorry I cannot see the difference. If I say it without being specific, what is the difference? For example: I have been working on the book. I am working on the book. Feb 1 '19 at 19:12
  • "I have been" emphasizes a duration of time, the writing started a while ago, whereas "I am " only focuses on the present time. For example: you are a dentist but you are currently writing a novel. But you are right, they essentially give the same information: you are in the process of writing a book.
    – anouk
    Feb 1 '19 at 19:37

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