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Well, I was learning present perfect tenses today and I am confused between present perfect and present perfect continuous. I have grasped majority of the uses of these sentences but I am confused that how come present perfect denote something which is continuous. In Indian schools we are generally taught that present perfect means that action has finished in the past. We don't know the exact time when the action was finished. For instance,

I have finished my work.

He has killed the mosquito.

So it means action happened somewhere near in the past. But how it can be used to represent continuous state of verb. Some examples from internet are,

She has been in Chandigarh for 3 years.

We generally interpret as that she lived for three in Chandigarh but now she lives somewhere else. But internet says it means still she is living in Chandigarh.

As a student I would have written this sentence as

She is living in Chandigarh from 3 years. or

She has been living in Chandigarh for 3 years.

Is it a matter of style only?

My main question is can you add any example which is present perfect and denotes continuous form and still cannot be written in present perfect continuous or simple present continuous?

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4 Answers 4

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(1) "She has been in Chandigarh for 3 years." We generally interpret as that she lived for three in Chandigarh but now she lives somewhere else.

It does not imply that she now lives elsewhere. For that you might say "she was/lived in Chandigarh for 3 years" (past simple).

(2) She is living in Chandigarh from 3 years

This is ungrammatical, not a matter of style.

(3) She has been living in Chandigarh for 3 years.

There is no semantic difference between (1) and (3); they are both acceptable.

Can you add any example which is present perfect and denotes continuous form and still cannot be written in present perfect continuous or simple present continuous?

I cannot.

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  • @Wehage..My concern is the difference between present perfect (depicting continuous) and present perfect continuous. Is there any distinction between two? Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 16:25
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"She has been in Chandigarh for 3 years" and "She has been living in Chandigarh for 3 years" are synonymous, and imply that she is still there. If the speaker wanted to indicate that she is no longer there, he could write "She had been in Chandigarh for 3 years" or "She was in Chandigarh for 3 years". Either of those imply that there was a 3 year period she was there, but she is no longer there.

"She is living in Chandigarh from 3 years." is incorrect English. I gather that the construction is common to Hindi or some other common Indian language, since I mostly see and hear that from people who learned English in that country.

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  • Good point. Indian English is a whole other thing, and if OP would like an answer in regards to the rules of that specific regional variety, they might have to ask elsewhere.
    – Wehage
    Commented Jun 17, 2020 at 15:55
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You can add to the present perfect's aspect of completed or finished act the present perfect continuous notion of a state or condition that has been reached and then maintained up to the present moment.

The water has been boiling for fifteen minutes.

She has been living in London for five years.

The water reached a boil 15 minutes ago and has remained at the boil and is still boiling now. She moved to London five years ago and has continued to live there and lives there still.

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Confusion on Tenses

I have divided my answer into 3 parts :

I. Confusion - Past perfect tense

My main question is can you add any example which is present perfect and denotes continuous form and still cannot be written in present perfect continuous or simple present continuous?

The fact that OP is taking all the pain to master the tenses is admirable. Selecting an excellent grammar book would be the first step towards achieving this.

Ref Adventures with Grammar and Composition, Beena Sugatham. Oxford Printing Press. Please note the sentence "We have known the Sharma family for over a decade". cannot be written in the continuous form as know is a stative verb.

I am reproducing the complete list of functions of Past perfect tense.

We use present perfect tense

  1. to show completed actions in the immediate past (things that have just happened) but have some connection to the present.

a. Their cousins have just arrived.

  1. to show an action that began in the past and is continuing up to the present.

a. We have known the Sharma family for over a decade.

b. Ms Sharma has been sick since last Saturday.

  1. to represent past actions when time is not definite.

a. I have never been to Agra before.

b. She has already finished her project

c. He has met the chief before.

  1. to talk about actions repeated several times in the past and which might also happen the future.

a. She has watched this movie ten times so far.

  1. I have written many letters.
  1. when the period of action we are referring to is not over yet.

a. This has been the best week of my life. (said on Thursday)

Words like such as, just, never, already, often, before, since, ever, so far, till now, yet, etc. can be used in the present perfect tense, like we have seen in a few of the examples.

II. Confusion 'been in', 'been' to' and gone to

We generally interpret as that she lived for three in Chandigarh but now she lives somewhere else. But internet says it means still she is living in Chandigarh.

The result from the internet for the usage of 'been in' is correct. But I feel you have confused 'been in' with 'been' to''.

She has been to Chandigarh. - means she went to Chandigarh but now she has returned or gone somewhere else.

She has gone to Chandigarh. - means she is still in Chandigarh.

III. Confusion - Simple present, Present continuous and Present perfect continuous.

She is living in Chandigarh from 3 years. or She has been living in Chandigarh for 3 years. Is it a matter of style only?

The meanings are different.

She is living in Chandigarh for 3 years = she went there 3 years ago but would return. (temporary stay)

"She has been living in Chandigarh for 3 years" = she went there 3 years ago and will stay there (permanent stay)

We can also use the simple present or the present perfect to show that her stay in Chandigarh is permanent.

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