I'm a little bit confiusing about actions in present perfect contiunuos senteces. I would like to understand if the actions are finished or not, for exampre if I say:

  • Tom have been playing football
  • Tom has been playing football

What are the differences between the above sentences? Does Tom playing football rigth now or he has just finished? Thank you.

  • Have is incorrect, regardless of tense. It is only used for I, you, we and they.
    – user57928
    May 16, 2020 at 17:02
  • Yes, my mistake, sorry. What about the meaning of the second sentence?
    – max
    May 16, 2020 at 17:08
  • He's still playing it right now. Eg: "He has been playing that game for the last 4 hours!" Compare with: "He had been playing night and day when he suddenly fell." (finished) and "He was playing until his foot fell off." (finished) and "He played football in college, but a tragic event forced him to stop." (finished)
    – user57928
    May 16, 2020 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


The present perfect continuous has two uses:

  1. an action that started in the past and is still continuing like "Tom has been playing football for 5 years" or "Tom has been playing football for an hour".

  2. an action that has just finished. For example: "Tom has been playing football and now he is on his way home from the game" or "Tom is sweaty and dirty because he has been playing football." The action must be recent, have a duration and some relevance to the present.

If you want to convey that he is playing football at this moment, just say: "Tom is playing football."

  • Ok, so in my example I can't say simply: Tom has been playing football, but I have to use the 'for' clause or complete the sentence with more details, right?
    – max
    May 16, 2020 at 19:14
  • There is always a context, you don't just say: "Tom has been playing football" without a reason. I was trying to make clear in what kind of situations you could say the sentence, that is why I provided those details, but you can say it without "for" or more details. The action must have stopped recently, otherwise present perfect or past simple are more appropriate.
    – anouk
    May 16, 2020 at 19:28

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