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I have come across a clip where someone says: "I have been buying a car this week". He bought the car for less than the asking price and is very pleased. Then he continues to explain the process of the purchase, for example how he looked for information first, what a good price is for the type of car he wanted and he also gives tips on how to negotiate a good deal.

My question is: "why is the present perfect continuous used instead of the present perfect simple for a single purchase?" Because the process of buying is emphasized? You wouldn't say: "I have been buying a book this week", would you.

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    A car is a big purchase, so you usually spend some time considering it, doing the things that the speaker describes; it's not a quick over-the counter transaction. Mar 16 at 17:26
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    Perhaps the purchase process is committed but hasn't fully completed yet. You don't usually just hand over the money and drive away, there is the ownership to transfer, insurance to arrange, etc. So saying "I bought a car" isn't quite true, yet, it is ongoing. Mar 16 at 17:41
  • @Kate Bunting For a quick transaction, like buying a book for example, the present perfect simple is appropriate?
    – anouk
    Mar 16 at 17:54
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    Yes, 'I bought' or 'I have bought' would be normal for most kinds of purchase. Mar 17 at 9:52
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    Because the process of buying a car can use up a lot time. That's why. Go do dealer, find a car, maybe they bring a car from another lot, test run the car, find low-cost insurance, register the car, have your spouse see the car. etc. etc. etc.
    – Lambie
    Apr 19 at 20:55
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I have been buying a car this week

My question is:....//... Because the process of buying is emphasized?


To answer the question

Because the process of buying is emphasized. However you are incorrect about the tense.

The sentence structure seen in

I have been buying a car this week

is commonly used for activities that have happened in the past but are a lengthy, time consuming activities. The use of been buying a car infers this action took place over a period of time. It also shows that the activity is complete. If the activity were ongoing it would be "I/we are buying a car"

I have been sleeping a lot since my operation.

this does not reference an ongoing action as no one knows how they will sleep tonight. Therefore it is a past tense. Perhaps more relevant in this case is that if we tried to use

I have slept a lot since my operation

It alters the perception of what has happened, sleeping a lot implies that you have had several periods of sleep, whilst slept a lot implies a one off but extended amount of rest.

I have been riding my bike.

definitely past tense.

Since we moved house I have been travelling to work by train.

Once again this is not a defined situation, however I would tend to expect this action to continue into the future.

The use of of of the present perfect simple for a single purchase?

Present perfect simple: uses We use the present perfect simple to refer to events in the past but which connect to the present.

I would have thought to use a past not present tense.

"I bought a car"

We use the past tense to talk about: something that happened once in the past, something that happened several times in the past, something that was true for some time in the past:

However this would not highlight that the process of buying a car, was a time consuming business that involved several periods of activity to complete. However most people recognise this and would not harp on about it so it is quite normal to say "I bought a car".


Q. My question is: "why is the present perfect continuous used instead of the present perfect simple for a single purchase?


Why do you think the present perfect continuous is used It could, and I suggest it is, the Past continuous form.

Why do you think you can use the present perfect simple? If the purchase has been completed, which the sentence suggest, then the purchase was in the past.

Been; used as the auxiliary of the present participle in progressive tenses expressing continuous action

I have been sleeping

Progressive Tenses

Progressive tense is a category of verb tense used to describe ongoing actions. The progressive tenses are sometimes called the "continuing" or "continuous" tenses. The progressive tenses are

the past progressive tense,

the present progressive tense, and

the future progressive tense.


Ref CED present participle-ing

-ing: used to form the present participle of regular verbs:

present participle; a form of a verb that in English ends in -ing and comes after another verb to show continuous action. It is used to form the present continuous: In the sentences "The children are watching television", "The weather is getting colder", and "I heard him singing", "watching", "getting", and "singing" are present participles.


Ref Merriam-Webster Been


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  • This doesn't answer the question.
    – Colin Fine
    Aug 23 at 16:21
  • @Colin Fine You were correct.
    – Brad
    Aug 29 at 7:22

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