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When we say " he has written many books" it does mean that he began in the past writing books and goes up to now , but it does not say that he will write another book or if he is not dead he will obviously write another book So why don't we say" he has been writing some books" (which indicates clearly that the action is not complete and still in progress)

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"He has been writing some books" says nothing about whether any were ever completed. It does suggest that the process of writing is still ongoing, if not actively write at that moment.

"He has written many books" says that those 'many' books have been completed. It says nothing about whether the process of writing is still ongoing.

I am not aware of any way to say, with such a simple clause, both that books have been written in their entirety and that he is still writing books. If you wish to communicate both facts clearly, you need two clause. "He has written many books, and has been writing more" is imprecise and might not strike anyone as beautiful prose, but it conveys both meanings.

  • Even if you use the present perfect progressive in this way, the sentence does not convey that he will write another book in the future. – re_nez Feb 2 at 13:05
  • I suppose it could be read as writing more without that necessarily being books, and it certainly doesn't imply that any more will be finished, but I think most people would take it to have an elided "books" at the end. That's the more natural reading to me. I wanted to present a sentence that reads comfortably and isn't excessively complex. – SamBC Feb 2 at 13:16
  • What I meant is that it doesn't imply that any more will be finished. But isn't that what the question is about? user5577 wrote: it does not say that he will write another book . I believe that neither the present perfect nor the present perfect progressive can convey that meaning. – re_nez Feb 2 at 13:31
  • Well, I would say someone can write a book without finishing it. A great many people do. – SamBC Feb 2 at 13:32
  • I assumed that with he will obviously write another book user5577 meant that he will also finish writing those books / publish many more books in the future. – re_nez Feb 2 at 13:37
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Here is my take on it.

The present perfect and present perfect progressive put the past in relation to the present not the future.

Depending on what you want to say or emphasize you either use the present perfect or present perfect progressive.

If you want to emphasize the duration of an event, you use the present perfect progressive.

"I have been playing the piano for an hour. Can I stop?" (single action, that started in the past and has continued up to now.)

"She has been playing the piano since she was six. No wonder she's so good!" (repeated action. A habit/action, that started in the past and has been repeated since, over a period of time that goes up to now.)

"What have you been doing?" - "I have been watching TV." (recent activity - single action)

"I need a holiday. I have been working very hard recently." (recent activity- repeated action)

The present perfect progressive doesn't give you information about if or if not an action will continue in the future.

"Why are you crying? I've been reading your book. It's so sad..."

The person talking is emphasizing the activity. We don't know, if the person will continue reading or not. He/she might just stop there and never ever finish reading the book. Or perhaps she has just finished reading it. e.g. I've been reading your book. The ending is so sad."

"He has written some books."

You are talking about several completed actions that happened in a period of time that started in the past and has continued up to now.

"He has been writing some books."

You are emphasizing the activity. The author may have never finished writing any of his books. Will he continue writing? - Who knows.

  • Or perhaps she has just finished reading it. e.g. " I've been reading your book. The ending is so sad." Why not say : "I've just read your book, the ending is so sad"? – anouk Feb 2 at 11:40
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    It depends on what you are trying to convey. The difference: 1. : A:"Why are you crying?" B:" I've been reading your book. The ending is so sad. " = The speaker emphasizes the activity. It actually does not matter whether something has been finished or not. The speaker attaches importance to the fact that he/ she has been reading.: Reading your book, has made me cry. Yes, the activity has been finished, but we only know, that this is the case because of "The ending is so sad." The speaker mentions this, because it was the ending that made him sad. – re_nez Feb 2 at 12:45
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    2.: I've read your book. The ending is so sad. - Here the important thing is that something has been finished. The speaker emphasizes the result of the activity, not the activity itself. – re_nez Feb 2 at 12:46
  • just out of interest, what is your native language? – anouk Feb 2 at 14:32
  • there is nothing wrong with your writing, your profile says you are from Vienna so I was just wondering. bilingual, meaning English and German? – anouk Feb 2 at 14:52
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In addition to re_nez excellent answer I'd like to say: "He has written some books" focuses on the completed action, the result, these books have been completed. The present perfect is also used when we want to express how much or how many: "He has written 5 books".

If you have just finished reading a book, you can also say: I've just read your book, the ending is so sad".

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