Yesterday I was in my class. Five students came late to class. I asked them " why are you late ? " Their responses are given below

  1. I have watched the cricket match.

  2. I have been watching the cricket match.

  3. I watched the cricket match.

  4. I have just watched the cricket match.

  5. I just watched the cricket match.

I feel a native English speaking student says "I have been watching the cricket match"

We may expect the answers " I have Just watched the cricket match or I have watched the cricket match" from non native English speaking students

I am of the opinilon that I have watched or I have been watching the cricket match is correct.

I am not sure of the other sentences. I think they are wrong

I would like to know whether the sentences 3,4, and 5 are also possible

I would be most grateful to you if you could answer my question

  • 5
    This sounds like a quiz question or homework question. To improve your question, which one do you think is correct and why? Have you done any research and did it help; was there anything you were confused by? Aug 14, 2019 at 15:25
  • @whiskeychief English is such a tricky language that everything is possible especially in tenses Aug 14, 2019 at 16:03
  • None is correct! They should have been in class. Heh heh.
    – puppetsock
    Aug 14, 2019 at 19:02
  • 2
    We are late because we were watching the cricket match.
    – Lambie
    Aug 15, 2019 at 16:41

2 Answers 2


As a native speaker, my answer would be

I was watching the cricket match.

Past perfect continuous tense means the action began at a time in the past and continued at the point in time being described or was somehow incomplete then. In the context of your question, I (the student) am late for class now because I watched the cricket match that took place close to or perhaps overlapping class time. This implies of course that the student stopped watching but presumably not soon enough to make it to class on time.

Of the answer choices given, the most appropriate would be

I have been watching the cricket match.

Have been … indicates that the speaker was elsewhere but since returned, as opposed to have gone … to mean the person is presently in a different place. This is the present perfect continuous or present perfect progressive tense.

With respect to the other possibilities in your question:

  1. I have watched the cricket match.
    This is the present perfect tense, which indicates something started in the past and continues in the present. The students are no longer watching the match, so present perfect may confuse the listener.

  2. I have been watching the cricket match.
    Explained above

  3. I watched the cricket match.
    Simple past tense is a bit robotic in this context. It is a true statement and accurate but only vaguely suggests a connection to being late. One might argue for a difference in precision over whether the student watched the cricket match to completion, in which case simple past would be more appropriate, or whether the match was still ongoing when the student left, in which case past continuous would be slightly better.

  4. I have just watched the cricket match.
    Present perfect again. Using just implies that it took place in the recent past, but the whole construction is wordy and awkward. Good English style is careful about use of just, only, and very. Also, statements perceived as being overly wordy may cause the listener to be suspicious.

  5. I just watched the cricket match.
    Just is mildly ambiguous here. Does the speaker mean just as in recently completed or just as in was watching the match and nothing more?

  • your answer is excellent but what is wrong with the construction" I have just watched the cricket match" Aug 16, 2019 at 3:22
  • @JagathaVLNarasimharao See point 4 in my answer. It uses present perfect tense to describe something that happened and completed in the past, which is the wrong tense and may confuse the listener. Throwing in the extra just makes it awkward.
    – Greg Bacon
    Aug 16, 2019 at 4:41
  • I disagree, " just" makes it clear the watching of the match happened very recently, nothing awkward about it.
    – anouk
    Aug 16, 2019 at 16:32
  • 4. I've just finished watching a/the cricket match is perfectly good English.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 18, 2019 at 11:21
  • 1. I have watched the cricket match does not necessarily mean the speaker is still watching the match, it would if it was present perfect continuous: I have been watching the cricket match [since 10.00 A.M.]
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 18, 2019 at 11:27

"I have been watching a cricket match" is wrong because there is no time frame, so we can not use present perfect continuous tense

  • Why do you think the present perfect continuous can only be used with a time frame?
    – anouk
    Aug 15, 2019 at 16:17
  • Have been/has been followed by since or for
    – darshh
    Aug 15, 2019 at 16:27
  • I think sentences 1 and 3 are not suitable in this context, because they don't convey that watching the cricket match took place a short time before and that is the reason you are late.
    – anouk
    Aug 15, 2019 at 16:28
  • 1
    present perfect continuous can also be used for actions which have just finished, but have present results. In this case being late.
    – anouk
    Aug 15, 2019 at 16:31
  • The timeframe is implied — the recent past — and understood by both the teacher and the students. Aug 16, 2019 at 1:22

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