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I have a question regarding this explanation. Can I use present perfect in A and present perfect continuous in B? Will past simple work in B?

"For the context of changing to a new course, we say A: "I've been studying English for the last two years, but now I'm switching to a new course" at any point after you made the decision to change courses but before your last day on the English course. Once your last day is finished, you'd say B:"I've studied English for the last two years but tomorrow I start my French course".

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This is a very fine point of grammar, and most people, at least in speech and informal writing, might ignore it.

Being very careful, you should not say "I have been studying English for the last two years" if in fact you are no longer studying English. The use of the progressive implies continuation.

I'd actually prefer the simple past in sentence B because of its specific time markers. This conflicts with the rule on using the present perfect for actions in the recent past or with current relevance. So I am not saying that the use of the present perfect is a grammatical error. I am merely saying that I would use the simple past.

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  • Thank you. What about sentence A? Is present perfect wrong in it? Aug 18 '21 at 15:20
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    No. The present perfect is grammatical in it, but it leaves vague whether it is a completed action or an on-going action. The present perfect progressive makes clear that it is still on-going. Aug 18 '21 at 15:33
  • Thank you very much. The difference between them is confusing. Aug 19 '21 at 11:00
  • Perhaps present perfect continuous isn't impossible in B either, is it? "Once your last day is finished, you'd say B:"I've studied/*I* have been studying English for the last two years but tomorrow I start my French course Aug 20 '21 at 10:45
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    I reiterate my answer. Present perfect continuous implies that something is in process. Thus, being very careful, using present perfect continuous for a completed action is not an exact expression. Are people always that careful? No. Aug 20 '21 at 11:20

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