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I'm looking for verbs that can't go with a period of time when they're used in present perfect simple.(For example, I've learnt how to swim for two weeks.)

In my opinion, the following verbs fall into this category. Would you please help me check if they are of this category? It's unwise or a waste of time to ask one by one, so I put them together. I apologize for listing so many words and example sentences.


  1. I've read A Tale of Two Cities for a month.

  2. Peter's team has constructed this amphitheater for a month.

  3. Martin's built a tree house for his daughter for two hours.

  4. Mr. Green's cooked a meal for an hour.

  5. Tina's written a poem for two hours.

  6. George's created a symphony for two weeks.

  7. The postman's delivered letters on this street for an hour.

  8. The widow's described his tragedy for an hour.

  9. Our CEO has introduced a new product at the press for two hours.

  10. Our enemies have destroyed our crops for two days.

  11. We've discussed whether to buy a second car for hours.

  12. Sarah's eaten her pizza for thirty minutes.

  13. Anthony's drunk tea for twenty minutes.

  14. We've encouraged Mary to study French for half an hour.

  15. The doctor's examined her patient for an hour.

  16. The bold scientist's explored the jungle for two weeks.

  17. I've explained why I love literature to Charles for thirty minutes.

  18. Jane's fed her baby for fifteen minutes.

  19. Lucy's followed her professor's advice for two years.

  20. Steve's sown seeds in his patch of land for four hours.

  21. Grandpa's planted flowers in the garden for two days.

  22. The worker's installed the washing machine in my house for half an hour.

  23. The police officers have investigated Tom's death for two weeks.

  24. Dad's peeled apples and bananas for the salad for several minutes.

  25. The mechanic has repaired Amy's car for two hours.

  26. David's polished his shoes for a long time.

  27. Richard's solved this math problem for twenty minutes.

  28. William's scrubbed the toilet for ten minutes.

  29. Dad's swept the house for ten minutes.

  30. Mr. Smith has vacuumed the classroom for five minutes.

  31. Henry's mopped the floor for ten minutes.

  32. Edward's translated The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for a month.

  33. Jennifer and her boyfriend have watched Avatar for an hour.

  34. John's climbed the mountain for two hours.

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  • It's fed, not feeded, and drunk, not drunkun. It would be easier if you had numbered your sentences. Most of them need a continuous tense, but I think discussed, examined and the ones to do with cleaning such as scrubbed, are acceptable. Jan 8 at 16:17
  • Thank you very much, Kate. I've corrected my mistakes and numbered the sentences.
    – Stephen
    Jan 9 at 2:05

1 Answer 1

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Some of the verbs, when in present perfect tense, imply that the action is completed. They are 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 22, 25, 27 and 32. Adding a time duration in this way (using a "for" time phrase) does not work for these examples. Depending on what the author means to say, these sentences could be changed to past continuous tense (eg "I have been reading A Tale of Two Cities for a month"), or the time phrases could be changed (eg "I've read A Tale of Two Cities in a month").

Some of the verbs, in present perfect tense, don't imply that the action is completed. They are 7, 11, 13, 19, 20, 21, 23 and 28. In the case of sentences 7, 21 and 24 this is because the action is repeating and there may be more repetitions. All of the sentences could be extended to make it clear that the action is ongoing, for example sentence 7 could be extended to "The postman's delivered letters on this street for an hour and he's still not finished". In general these sentences can work as they are, as answers to questions such as "What has the postman done today?"

Some of the verbs can be understood either as completed or as possibly ongoing. They are 4, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 24, 26, 29, 30, 31, 33 and 34. Use of the "for" time phrase implies that the action is ongoing, while leaving it out or using an "in" time phrase would imply the action was completed.

Sentence 14 is different from the others, because the half-hour duration would naturally be understood to refer to the amount of time Mary should spend studying French instead of to the amount of time spent encouraging her.

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  • Thank you very much. I added 34 just a few seconds before you published your reply.
    – Stephen
    Jan 9 at 4:53

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