I've always struggled with these two tenses, for example, is there any difference between these two sentences, or is one of them just wrong?

  1. I have been working all my life, I should have a home by now.
  2. I have worked all my life, I should have a home by now.

3 Answers 3


The difference between the tenses in your examples is not so obvious because of the final phrase "all of my life", which specifies a time period. So, you could use either of these in this context. These sentences essentially mean the same here. Neither is wrong. Both sound natural.

However, more generally, there are differences:

The present perfect is used for talking about something that happened at some unspecified point in the past, but that is not necessarily still continuing. It could be finished, it may have only happened once, and may never happen again, but it would depend on the context and what comes afterwards.

The present perfect continuous is used to talk about something that began happening at some unspecified point in the past, and which is still happening, regularly/repeatedly/continuously.

Here are some simpler examples which demonstrate the differences more clearly

I have eaten at Macdonalds. At some unspecified point in the past, I ate at Macdonalds, at least once.

I have been eating at Macdonalds. I began eating at Macdonalds at some unspecified point in the past, and I am still eating there regularly at present. There is a strong sense of a habitual/repeating behaviour here.


We can use either of these when we're talking about biographical type facts about someone's life, often with for and since.[1] This is especially the case with verbs such as "live", "work", and "study".[2]

For example:

I have lived in New York since 2001.
I have been living in New York since 2001.

He has studied Spanish for seven years.
He has been studying Spanish for seven years.

They have worked at the company since 2013.
They have been working at the company since 2013.




  • 1
    This doesn't appear to address the question, which is about the differences between the two tenses. Even if there's an explanation at the links location, that's not enough. When the OP --or anyone with the same question-- looks at an answer, it should satisfy the question on its own. Links are for attribution and further reading
    – gotube
    Jun 6, 2022 at 16:41
  • @gotube The OP asks about the difference between the two sentences, and I explained that there are no differences between them.
    – user150280
    Jun 6, 2022 at 23:08
  • The two sentences are an example. The title and the text of the question make it clear they're asking about the differences between the two tenses. Your answer doesn't address why the two sentences have the same meaning even though they have different tenses which don't always have the same meaning
    – gotube
    Jun 7, 2022 at 1:06
  • @gotube What is the difference between present perfect and present perfect continuous "in this example". In this example!!!
    – user150280
    Jun 7, 2022 at 9:21

When we talk about someone's biography and life, either of the two tenses can be used without noticeable change in the meaning. for instance:

  • I've worked in this field since I was 19.
  • I've been working in this field since I was 19.
  • 4
    Please edit and add the necessary attribution, because your answer is probably copied from this site. Your words are very similar and your example is exactly the same. You'll need to provide a link to the original page, otherwise it's plagiarism. Before, I used not to paste the link which I used as reference when I write an answer, and yesterday I finally knew that I should.
    – user150280
    Jun 6, 2022 at 11:46
  • 4
    Please also read this article about how to reference material written by others. Thanks!!!
    – user150280
    Jun 6, 2022 at 11:46
  • done. sorry I didn't know about the policy.
    – Bittern
    Jun 7, 2022 at 4:10

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