I've been wondering if I can use this sentence ?

"I wasn't expecting you here." - the character is approching after he says that. (original version)

I thought that using present perfect continuous would be more proper.

"I have't been expecting you here." - emphesis the duration up to now that she suddenly appeared

I found those examples while watching John Wick 2. I heard that my version doesn't suit it. How the situation should look like if I want to use my example ?

  • I agree with Jeff, but I think "I wasn't expecting to see you here" is a fixed expression.
    – anouk
    Feb 27, 2020 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


I see someone unexpectedly.

I wasn't expecting to see you here

correctly places that expectation in the past. That negative expectation clearly cannot continue after the sighting up until the moment of speaking.

I hadn't expected to see you here

correctly places that expectation in the past preceding another event in the past, namely the event of seeing you.

So either the past or past perfect make temporal sense.

It is true that the present perfect is sometimes used to emphasize completion:

I have finished my homework

when told to stop watching television and do your homework.

But that usage tends to be restricted to verbs that indicate activity. Expectation is more of a state than an activity. So emphasis will be obtained in a different way. For example,

I never expected to see you here

  • So Present Perfect Continuous isn't correct here anyway ? It doesn't suit it in any situation ?
    – user331990
    Feb 27, 2020 at 22:14
  • I hesitate to say that there is no conceivable situation where use of the present perfect may be correct. I cannot think of one, however. If one exists, it would probably be a very rare situation. Feb 27, 2020 at 23:25

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