In a movie, someone says "she has been possessing people", when speaking about a "witch".

Does this sentence mean that "she" has possessed people for a while and continues to possess people?

What could be the difference with "she has possessed people" and the previous example?

  • I agree with FumbleFingers, but like to add that the continuous is also used to express a habit, which has been going on for sometime.
    – anouk
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 13:26
  • Ok, the sentence with continuous talks either about a finished action right now or an action that is going on in the present and the sentence with present perfect simple just talks about a past action with connection with present : Here there is a connection because they do not know what will happen to them.
    – safarie
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 14:52
  • @FumbleFingers You've removed a comment about current relevance, could you please add that comment? It was really helpful.
    – anouk
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 10:37
  • 1
    It's not great English because witches don't possess people. People are possessed by [a demon or other thingie] and witches cast spells on people. In any case, it implies another tense with an action that precedes it: She had been possessing people when she lived on the bayou.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 17:01
  • 1
    The linked question contains, and the only answer to it concentrates on the effect of the word "all", so in my view it is not a duplicate, because possible answers to this question are unlikely to be given to the linked Q. Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 17:32

1 Answer 1


She has been possessing people implies that she is still acquiring new people to possess. She has possessed people means that she has done that in the past, but does not necessarily mean she is still doing that. She may still be, but it is a bit more ambiguous than she has been.

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