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Perfect simple and perfect continuous are sometimes confusing for learners. I know we can use "I've worked for twenty years" in place of "I've been working for twenty years". Both can mean a continuous action in the case of some dynamic verbs such as "work" or "teach". But how about the verbs "pursue" and "destroy"? Can we use them in the perfect simple for continuous actions like this?

  1. Human beings have pursued convenience so much that they have destroyed nature for the past two hundred years.
  2. Human beings have been pursuing convenience so much that they have been destroying nature for the past two hundred years.

Can we use the first sentence (1) instead of using (2)?

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    I think that if you have destroyed something, it has been destroyed. That is not the same as "have been destroying" which is a process.
    – anouk
    Jun 3, 2022 at 21:02
  • Your example sentences are very awkward using any of those tenses. Are you asking about the tenses, or about how to write those particular sentences? If you want to know about the tenses, then I recommend giving example sentences that only have the tenses once. If you want to know how to write that sentence correctly, then your question is off-topic for this site. We do not help people correct their writing
    – gotube
    Jun 4, 2022 at 2:44

2 Answers 2

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My suggestion would be “Human beings have pursued convenience so much that they have been destroying nature for the past two hundred years.”

Pursuit is not a final activity: we can pursue convenience (or happiness or a purse-snatcher or a good night’s sleep) yesterday and then do it again today and tomorrow.

Destruction is typically final. If nature were destroyed 200 years ago, it would have been destroyed and from 1823 onward, we would have been living in a nature-free world.

And I am curious about your use of the third-person “they”: unless you are quite talented AI, you should be using “we” in this context.

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  • don't you think that have destroyed would be better because" have been destroying" could be understood as something temporary . if that destruction have lasted for 200 years it is not a temporary thing anymore .
    – Yves Lefol
    Jun 4, 2022 at 7:11
  • @user5577 — it is the act of destroying, of moving the system from an intact state to a destroyed state, that is taking a long time. Jun 4, 2022 at 13:38
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Think the situation 1.If something is started in the past and still true right now choose present perfect. Example,I have lived in Yang since I was born. I lived in Yangon since I was born till now.That fact is still true.But whether I no longer live or to live is my choice.all the time I was living in Yangon is still true right now.not happening continuously because maybe if I get married my fact will be changed as I have been living in Yangon since I was born.Because I have to change my situation (maybe I will move another town)

2.If something is started in the past and happening continuously till now then choose present perfect continuous. Example Today it has been raining all morning.We don't have the choice to stop the rain.It is happening continuously.If something is happening continuously then choose the continuous tense.

So human beings pursued convenience since long time ago but it is still true because everyone is trying that case.We also know that is still true.And also we have the choice to care over enviroment. Thats why you should use present perfect for pursue convenience.

Then let's talk human nature.We want to be a good man.So take care ourself such as behavior,manner and thoughts and etc.But as you know someone is starved what he will do.He will do everything.That being time he would not think I want to be a good man.he will do to get food anything.I mean human's real habit.dark site.It is nature.Never will not stop.It will come when we are struggled.I want to point out is it will happen everyone's mind.If you can control.That is good.But how about others.I don't think so.I want to say is it will happen continuosly in our mind to destroy something.It is hidding inner of us. Everyone can destroy easily.So you should use have been destroying nature. Summary is still true present perfect and if happening continuously use present perfect continuous.from my opinion,we should use

"Human beings have pursued convenience so much that they have been destroying nature for the past two hundred years."

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