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I have been thinking about you

Would mean that currently I am still thinking about her but we do not have a period.

I have been thinking about you since I met you.

This sentence implies I'm still thinking about her

I have thought about you

I have just stopped to think about her.

Is it correct?

3 Answers 3

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This is definitely a case where the idiomatic meaning is more important than what you ascertain from the tense used.

"I have been thinking about you" is past tense. The present tense would be "I am thinking about you". So technically, it doesn't mean you are still thinking about them. But in a situation where you were saying that to someone, you would be present with them. When you are with someone, you might well be using your thoughts and be thinking about them, but it in a different way. The idiomatic or perceived meaning of "I have been thinking about you" is that the person has been in your thoughts while you were apart from them.

"I have thought about you", used in the same kind of context, really means the same. It doesn't necessarily mean just one thought. We sometimes say "I have thought about you often". Likewise, "I've been thinking..." doesn't imply constant thought - it can mean that they came to mind often, over an extended period.

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  • Nice answer. I am upvoting. Commented Jul 22, 2022 at 13:17
  • "I have been thinking about you" is past tense. up to the time of speaking right now.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 17:30
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The particular sentence that you chose as an example is perhaps not a good one for understanding aspect in English.

I was studying economics every day

but that repetitive activity was in the past and is not relevant to my current activities.

I have been studying economics every day

refers to a past that has continued up to the present. It almost certainly does not mean that studying economics is concurring simultaneously with the utterance about studying.

In general, the present perfect continuous does not imply the literal present:

I have been studying

does not mean

I was studying in the past and am studying at this exact moment

In this respect, “think” is a peculiar word because whatever you utter is something you are thinking about concurrently. To say

I have been thinking about you

necessarily entails that I also am thinking about you as I speak. But you cannot generalize that to other verbs.

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  • So to sum up, if there is a for/ since the action is up to present but if there is none, the action has just stopped or could also be ongoing? I am asking that because in the sentence "I have been reading a book" the action is ongoing, is not it? Is there another rule?
    – safarie
    Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 0:38
  • No. “I have been reading” does not mean “I am reading now.” You are taking a very odd case and trying to generalize it. The present perfect refers to the past. Commented Jul 23, 2022 at 1:18
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Present perfect continuous or present perfect progressive has something of time factor attached to it which may be explicit or implicit but it has to be there in the sentence and this is the only point of divergence from present continuous. Otherwise they both relate to present. present perfect for that matter stands at the threshold of past where the resultant effect is still present as in your sentence:- I have thought about you. It means I have thought about you but that matter has not come to a decision and perhaps am still deliberating on the issue.

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