1

I have just returned to my hometown after working and living in Rome for 5 years. I do not work or live in Rome anymore.

I meet someone who says: "I haven't seen you in a while, what have you been doing?

How do I answer this question? If I say: "I have been working and living in Rome" it sounds like I still work and live there, which is no longer the case.

Can I answer: "I worked and lived in Rome" even though this doesn't parallel the tense in the question?

5
  • 2
    You certainly don't have to replicate the Present Perfect as used in the original question. But it might be a bit odd to simply reply "I worked and lived in Rome" if that was entirely in the past (surely the next thing he'd have to ask would be "What are you doing now?"). Incidentally, simultaneous living and working would almost always be specified in that order in English, so a reasonably natural reply might be "I lived and worked in Rome until [recently, actual date, or whatever], and since then I've been back here [in my hometown]". Apr 10, 2021 at 17:52
  • @ FumbleFingers Do you think "I have been working and living in Rome" sounds like I still work and live in Rome?
    – anouk
    Apr 10, 2021 at 18:16
  • @ FumbleFingers "But it might be a bit odd to simply reply "I worked and lived in Rome" if that was entirely in the past". I don't understand, because you use the past simple if something is entirely in the past, so why is it odd?
    – anouk
    Apr 11, 2021 at 11:30
  • 2
    Nothing unusual. Just that if someone asks what you've been doing, they'd normally expect you to give a series of activities ending with whatever you're currently doing. Apr 11, 2021 at 12:32
  • People can change tenses. "I was working and living in Rome".
    – Lambie
    Jan 16, 2022 at 17:06

1 Answer 1

2

You should use the perfect progressive "I've been living and working in Rome".

This means that you don't currently live there, the activity was happening in the past. It makes a connection to the present: that is the reason that your friend hasn't seen you at any time up to now is that you have been living abroad.

Using the past tense breaks this link to the present and would not work. Your friend wants to know why he hasn't seen you until now. "I lived in Rome" would not answer that question. (Okay, you lived in Rome in the past, but why haven't I seen you since then?)

An alternative is to use the past progressive: "I was working in Rome until last week". But then I'd still like to fill in the gap "And I've been unpacking this week."

4
  • Sorry, but I've been living and working in Rome can mean you are still there.
    – Lambie
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:26
  • It can do, but look at the question context.
    – James K
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:26
  • For this context, I'd say: I was living and working in Rome and not use the PPC at all.
    – Lambie
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:30
  • We'll just have agree to differ, or put it down to dialect/ideolect. I strongly prefer the PPC for this.
    – James K
    Oct 2, 2023 at 22:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .