It is now 1 p.m and I've been travelling for 4 hours and have just arrived. The journey was quite exhausting so I say: "I'm tired because I've just been travelling for 4 hours.

At 4 p.m I'm still tired of the journey, but a couple of hours have passed. Can I still say: " I'm tired because I've been travelling for 4 hours, or would it be better to use present perfect simple: "I'm tired because I have travelled for 4 hours ( today).

  • 4
    It's a stylistic choice / judgement call. There's nothing inherently "incorrect" about choosing to use the continuous form or not, in either context (immediately upon arrival, or a couple of hours later). But I personally would normally only say I've been travelling for several hours for a very short period after arrival. Later that evening when I say I'm going to bed early, I might explain myself by saying I'm tired because I was travelling for several hours this afternoon. But there are no rights and wrongs here. Dec 9, 2021 at 12:02
  • @FumbleFingers "a very short period after arrival". How short is short?
    – anouk
    Dec 9, 2021 at 16:09
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    The principle that the shorter the time between the earlier doing something and the later talking about it, the more appropriate it is to use a continuous verb form. But there's no specific amount of time where you can say "If it's less than this, use one version; if it's more, use the other version". Both versions are at least "acceptable" regardless of elapsed time between action and speech. Dec 9, 2021 at 17:06
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    Not really, no. If it's still afternoon, ...because I have been travelling for several hours. If not, ...because I was travelling for several hours. But it depends on the specific verb - it would perfectly idiomatic to say I'm wide awake because I slept for several hours this afternoon. (And before you ask - I don't know how to explain why Simple Past "slept" works in such constructions, but "travelled" doesn't! :) Dec 15, 2021 at 11:31
  • 1
    Yes, you can certainly say that. But in practice I doubt many people would include "this afternoon", because Present Perfect already implies "very recently" (i.e. - you could really only say it in the late afternoon / early evening of the travel day, so it's contextually obvious when you did the four hours travel anyway). Jan 9, 2022 at 12:28


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