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The question is from BBC Towards Advanced

Q: In which of these sentences are Camille and Philippe in a romantic relationship?

A) Camille has been seeing Philippe for a few months. B) Camille and Philippe were seeing each other for a year.

The right answer is A.

As I know 'see' is a stative verb, and stative verbs can be used in progressive tenses when they are used in set phrases. Is it an excerpt of idiomatic language to say 'has been seeing' to express being in a romantic relationship? The following sentence is from Cambridge Dictionary

How long has she been seeing him? (to have a romantic relationship with someone)

So if one writes 'Camille and Philippe were seeing each other for a year.' does it certainly not mean that they were in a romantic relationship? If so, what does it mean ?

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  • Both A) and B).
    – Lambie
    Aug 9, 2022 at 13:49
  • Very often the organs being used are not the eyes. Aug 9, 2022 at 13:55
  • It is A you can see by visiting the link and I'd love to hear why you think B (it's 'C' on the website) is also correct.
    – user138449
    Aug 9, 2022 at 14:03
  • @MichaelHarvey For sure. But the question here is why is 'B' incorrect? I suppose there is an idiomatic language here in the present perfect continuous tense, isn't there?
    – user138449
    Aug 9, 2022 at 14:06
  • Nothing to do with 'idiom. Only sentence A includes the present. Aug 9, 2022 at 14:30

1 Answer 1

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The question is:

In which of these sentences are Camille and Philippe in a romantic relationship?

The verb ('are') is in the present tense, so we need to find which of the two sentences discusses something which exists in the present.

Only A satisfies this requirement - 'has been seeing' is in the present perfect continuous tense. This tense is used to discuss things which started in the past and have continued until the present, and are not yet finished.

In sentence B, the verb form is 'were seeing' is in the past continuous tense, also known as the past progressive tense, We use this tense to talk about a continuing action or state that was happening at some point in the past.

Only sentence A says that Camille and Philippe are in a romantic relationship now, in the present.

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