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)?

  • 2
    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

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 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 .
    – user5577
    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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