A women who has just had an operation is surprised and happy she isn't in any pain.

She says: "I thought for sure I'd be in a lot more pain and would find it difficult doing things but today I have been washing dishes, folding some clothes, playing with my little 3yo on the floor ".

Is she talking about the nature of her activities or is she talking about repeated activities? I think she is talking about the nature of her activities. What do you think?

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    You're right. There's no reason to suppose she did any of those three activities on more than one separate occasion (i.e. - there's no reason to suppose "repeated" is a relevant implication of the verb form here). But that doesn't mean she didn't do some or all of those things repeatedly - just that the particular words she used convey nothing at all about that. Jan 22, 2021 at 16:34
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    ...she could just as well have said today I washed dishes, folded some clothes, and played with my little 3yo on the floor. Optionally with have before washed - none of these changes make any specific difference to the meaning. They're just different alternative stylistic choices, that don't affect meaning in a way that would be universally recognised. Jan 22, 2021 at 16:37

1 Answer 1


I didn't quite get what you meant by "the nature of her activities", but the woman is describing her day which hasn't finished yet. She is being interviewed on the same day the mentioned activities took place.

She could have used Present Perfect (or even Past Simple - as pointed out by @FumbleFingers in the comments), which would have been equally acceptable.

Today I have washed dishes, folded some clothes, played with my little 3yo on the floor.

However, by using Present Perfect Continuous she stresses the duration of each activity. She had quite a busy day, she was physically active and she didn't feel any discomfort or pain throughout the day.

  • Just out of interest, where did you learn English? You are really good and I want to know how you achieved this fluency.
    – anouk
    Jan 22, 2021 at 17:03
  • @anouk I am far from being fluent, I am still learning... I think some self-study books (I love these series from Cambridge) and immersion in the language help Jan 22, 2021 at 17:29
  • I have been having problems with the different nuances, and I mean nuances, not the obvious differences, in the usage of present perfect simple and continuous. Any suggestions?
    – anouk
    Jan 22, 2021 at 17:34
  • @anouk generally, the former is about result/state, whereas the latter emphasises progress/process and I think all small details are derived from these main concepts... And don't overcomplicate the matter, don't let this tense prevent you from exploring the language's beauty further :) Jan 23, 2021 at 15:18
  • How do you immerse in a language when you live in a country where that language is not spoken?
    – anouk
    Jan 23, 2021 at 17:52

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