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Can present perfect be used in the following situations? Present perfect continuous is the usual choice, but do native speakers use present perfect simple too?

  1. "It has rained for two hours" = It is no longer raining.

  2. "It has rained for two hours" = It is still raining.

  3. "I have waited for two hours = I am still waiting.

  4. "I have waited for two hours = I have stopped waiting.

  5. "How long have you waited?" = The person is still waiting.

  6. "How long have you waited??" = The person has just made decision to go home. Or it is because of something else that he is no longer going to wait.

  7. "How long has it rained?" = It is still raining.

  8. "How long has it rained?" = It has stopped raining.

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    It has rained for two hours. implies it is raining at the time of speaking. The kid's been screaming for ten minutes. Both start in the past and imply ongoing action.
    – Lambie
    Dec 21, 2021 at 18:58
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    None of these quoted "present perfect simple" examples would likely be spoken by a native speaker of American English.
    – cruthers
    Dec 21, 2021 at 19:37
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    This has zero to do with BrE speakers. It is just English. And, an AmE speaker might very well say them. "It has [just] rained for two hours, and you are still complaining about a dry garden?"
    – Lambie
    Dec 22, 2021 at 16:35
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    You seem to be repeating yourself. With the PP, the action is ongoing at the time of speaking or when the action began precisely is not the point. "He has lived there for two years."
    – Lambie
    Dec 23, 2021 at 15:18
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    And I have now said no three times, I think. It has rained for two hours.= At the time I say this the raining has been coming down for two hours. It says nothing about whether or not the rain has stopped.
    – Lambie
    Dec 23, 2021 at 20:40

1 Answer 1

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In all cases the present perfect indicates a state that continues to the present. It doesn't say anything about it continuing into the future. It could stop at the time of speaking or it could continue.

For the "waiting" examples, it would be possible to say

I've waited for two hours, so I'm going home now.

I've waited for two hours, but I'll just give him another 30 minutes.

In the first case, the person is stopping the wait at the time of speech, and not in the second case. Without the second half of the sentence the first part doesn't say anything about when the person will stop waiting.

In the "rain" examples, it would be unlikely for the rain to stop just as you speak (it would be a real coincidence!). If you were speaking after the rain had stopped you would use the past tense:

It rained for two hours this morning, but it stopped 10 minutes ago.

I'd prefer "It has been raining" in the rain examples, although there isn't much difference between the present perfect and present perfect continuous in the meaning.

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  • regarding this part "I'd prefer "It has been raining" in the rain examples, although there isn't much difference between the present perfect and present perfect continuous in the meaning." When is there no difference between present perfect continuous and present perfect when the action has finished/it has stopped raining or when it's stiill raining? Dec 28, 2021 at 12:00

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