thanks for paying attention to my request. There are four sentenses that drive me crazy :) The sentences and the keys are provided by a book for a CAE exam preparation.

1) She was breathing hard as if she HAD BEEN RUNNING.

I would write HAD RUN, but it isn't suggested. Why? I don't see that a duration of her running is important, but see a result - she was breathing hard.

2) Henson never thought about retirement. In fact he HAD BEEN MAKING a documentary film about the indigenous people of Chile when he died.

I would write WAS MAKING, but am I right that it means he literaly was making a film when his heart stopped beating? If yes, why again HAD MADE isn't an option? How to understand a neсessity of showing a duration?

3) Kind of the opposite situation ) Over the last year I HAVE RUN workshops on creative writing in twelve colleges and universities. I would write HAVE BEEN RUNNING, but it's incorrect. This time I see the duration - over last year - why we don't emphasize it?

4) a dialogue A HAVE YOU BEEN SWIMMING? You look really exhausted. B: I am. I did 50 lengths of the pool.*

Actually I think that two options are appropriate in the 4th sentence, HAVE YOU BEEN SWIMMING? and HAVE YOU SWUM? But the authors don't suggest the second option (and they would as they did in other sentences). I wonder why not Present Perfect, but PPC?

Hpope, it's not too much. I would appreciate your help.


2 Answers 2


In (1) and (4), the person appears to have spent some time running or swimming. You would only use had run if a particular distance or purpose had been mentioned; She had run the last hundred metres. She had run for the bus. To go swimming is to spend time in the water for pleasure or fitness.

(2) You are right is saying that he was making a film when he died could imply that he died on set. Had been making means that he had spent time doing so shortly before his death. Had made could refer to any film made during his lifetime.

(3) To me, I have been running workshops in twelve colleges implies that all 12 were happening simultaneously. Like Henson's films, have run refers to workshops completed in the past.


In addition to Kate's answers I'd like to give you some tips, I have been struggling with the present perfect simple/continuous for more than two years and I am slowly learning.

The swimming and running examples stress activity, physical effort with a duration.

He had been making a film when he died means at the moment he died he had been making a film for some time and the continuous emphasizes this, whereas he was making a film when he died just means he was working on a film at that time and says nothing about the period before his death. It doesn't say anything about the completion of the film, whereas "had made" would mean the film had been completed or finished.

"I have run workshops in twelve colleges" means that in the past year ( from january 2019 until now) I have run workshops in 12 colleges in total. These individual workshops have been completed. If you have been running workshops in twelve colleges for the past year, you have been very busy, working for 12 different colleges and dividing your time between them!

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