Doing some tasks in the textbook I stumbled across one sentence. Here is a small dialog.

Do you have a headache ?

Yes, I've had a headache all morning.

Why do we use the present perfect tense here, but not the pres. perf. continuous ? My logic is that we have an indicator for a period of time (all morning) and have is a part of the set phrase (have a headache), which is the reason why have can be used in continuous context. But still, we use the present perfect tense. Although I've been having a headache all morning sounds weird for me. Where am I wrong?

  • What does that small dialog do? In other words, what is the task?
    – WXJ96163
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


The verb "have" already provides the "continuous" sense. It describes a state, and not an action

So we tend to say

I have a headache.

and not

(?) I am having a headache.

(This latter in grammatically correct, but sounds odd. As if is something the speaker can turn off if they chose)

So when we put that into a perfect form (to describe the state starting at some time in the past) No continuous tense is used.

You could use a continuous tense for repeated headaches over a period of time

I've been having headaches once or twice a week for the last six months.

  • Ok, thanks It's clear for me now
    – osynavets
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 21:33

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