Someone asks us what our job is. What's the difference between these three answers?

I'm a secretary. I work in a dental office.

I'm a secretary. I'm working in a dental office.

I'm a secretary. I've been working in a dental office.

1 Answer 1

  1. This is a fact about the person. The see their job as permanent and don't expect to change it.

  2. This describes their current position, with the implication that their position is temporary. "I'm working in a dentist's office, but I want to quit and start my own business"

  3. This suggests that they no longer work in a dentist's office (perhaps they have recently quit their job to care for children etc) "I've been working in a dentist's office, but I left yesterday because I'm going to start my own business"

Perfect tenses have two main uses, depending on whether or not a "since" phrase is present.

"I've been working" speaks of an ongoing work in the past that is now completed but making a connection to the present. The nature of the connection is made clear by the context. Without context it sounds rather odd.

"I've been working since ..." means that the work is ongoing until the present and so isn't complete.

  • "I've been working in a dentist's office since September." This suggests that they are still working there. However, "I worked in a dentist's office" tells the listener that they no longer work as one.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 30, 2022 at 17:28
  • @Mari-LouA so, if I got it right, "I've been working since..." means that I'm still in, but "I've been working" without "since" implies that I've already left it? Am I right?
    – AlexandrX
    Apr 30, 2022 at 17:34
  • Not necessarily. "I have been living/working in Madrid" (for me) suggests that the action is ongoing.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Apr 30, 2022 at 17:37
  • Hmm, okay, I think I got it. But I'm still a bit confused about using the present perfect continuous. Is the action in progress or completed if there's no time reference?
    – Lou
    Apr 30, 2022 at 19:23
  • It might be either continuing, or recently ended. You can't tell without further context.
    – Colin Fine
    Apr 30, 2022 at 19:49

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