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I have come across this sentence:

Over the past two weeks I have been visiting each class and I am very impressed by the level of engagement. (It is the principal who is visiting.)

What does "over the past two weeks I have been visiting each" mean? That two weeks ago I started visiting classes and it is my goal to visit each one of them?

Does it mean that I have visited each class multiple times over the past two weeks? Or that over the past two weeks I have visited each class?

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It suggests that during the course of the previous two weeks the principal has visited each cl;ss at least once. It may mean "exactly once" rather than "at least once". It is possible that the principal has started on a round of visits intended to include each class, but has not at the time of writing completed it, but I think that would have peen phrased differently. If the round of visits had been started but not finished, I might have written "over the past two weeks I have been visiting classes" or perhaps "over the past two weeks I have been visiting classes with the intent of going to each". Or other forms of expression could have been adopted for that case.

The same Idea could have been expressed as "over the past two weeks I have visited each class" with no significant change in meaning. I would say that the difference is one of style. The form using the continuous tense suggests a process more. Perhaps in this case that the Principal's visits were part of a longer process of monitoring the condition of the school, but that is speculation.

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  • Then why not just write "I have visited each class"? . "that would have been phrased differently". How would you phrase it?
    – anouk
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 12:05
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    Using the continuous tense doesn't literally mean anything different from 'I have visited each class', but it conveys the sense of the principal spending some time on making the round of visits, and thinking of it as an ongoing project. Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 13:42
  • @ Kate Bunting By "ongoing project" do you mean continuing into the future, or seeing the visit itself as an ongoing event with a duration?
    – anouk
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 17:02
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    @anouk If the round of visits had ben started but not finished, I might write "I have been visiting classes" or perhaps "I have been visiting classes with the intent of going to each". I will address "I have visited each class" in a revised answer. Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 17:34
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    @anouk I copied your expression because you seemed to have used it as distinct from 'continuing into the future'. I was trying to express that the round of visits was seen as a single project that took some time, as distinct from a series of separate visits. Commented Jan 2, 2021 at 13:53

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