This is from a newspaper article: "we would like to hear from people who have been protesting against the controversial ruling." "If you have taken part in protests we would like to hear from you".

So first the present perfect continuous is used and then the present perfect simple. Any idea why? Could they just as well have said: "Have you been taking part in protests"?

My question is: is the continuous used because people continue to protest or could it be they have taken part in one protest and the continuous is used to emphasize the duration of the recent activity?

1 Answer 1


have been protesting

The intent here is to communicate that "protesting" is happening not at a single point in time, but over an interval of time.

If you were to say "protested against the ruling", what you are saying is that you did something to protest, and then completed that, and you can refer to a single point in time (specific day, hour, etc.) where you did that.

Have you taken part in any protests

So, to take part in means to join an effort.

When you join something, it's typically a single-point-in-time event.

For example, you join a group on line. You click a [Join] button, and within fractions of a second, you are now in the group.

Now if you join something that is taking a long time like "an effort" - the effort itself will be described using continuous tenses, but it's not necessary for describe the "joining" that way.

  • "over an interval of time" could that be one protest, which takes some time, or several protests? Would "have you been taking part in any protests" be possible in this context?
    – anouk
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 18:41
  • @anouk No, it wouldn't be. The protest is being used as a collective noun -- the (singular) protest against the ruling. Besides, "any protests" is far too general. Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 21:11
  • @ FeliniusRex sorry, I don't understand your answer. I am asking if someone has been taking part in several protests, probably over several days.
    – anouk
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 21:33

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