I heard in the film "burn after reading " by the Cohen brothers this sentence :

He has disappeared for the last 2 days.

Why is it not"has been disappearing "? .

When you say that it means obviously that the person is still missing. Is it because When you use present perfect for this verb, it is obvious that what matters is the action not the time it lasts. Could you give me an example with this verb used with present perfect continuous

2 Answers 2


"To disappear" does not mean to be invisible; it means to transition from visible to invisible. The present perfect continuous is used for an ongoing action, so if you say "he has been disappearing for the last 2 days", then he is either taking a long time to disappear or disappearing multiple times. In the movie, the person has apparently completed the transition from visible to invisible, so there is no need for the continuous aspect.

Here is an example using the present perfect continuous in which the event occurs once:

Because the weather has gotten colder, the flowers in my yard have been slowly disappearing.

Here is an example in which it occurs multiple times:

He sometimes leaves without telling anyone. However, he's been disappearing more frequently over the last month.

  • 1
    I would find it more natural for the character to say "He disappeared two days ago." Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 8:01
  • @KateBunting: I think the phrasing as actually used carries a stronger implication of speaker having made several unsuccessful attempts to locate the missing person. Plus that "continuous" construction kinda suggests the "fugitive" is still moving around locally (perhaps ducking out of sight whenever he sees the speaker), where your "completed action" alternative might be more appropriate if the fugitive had holed up in a cave somewhere, with no possibility of being found against his will. Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 12:12

"Has been disappearing" can be used in grammatically correct ways. These are some example sentences. There isn't even need for qualifying statements or clauses in the sentences. Present perfect continuous tense only means that a thing has been happening continuously from the past to the present, or the thing has (or had) happened multiple times in the recent past.

He has been disappearing.

He has been disappearing for the last 2 days.

He has been disappearing and reappearing for the last 2 days.

He has been disappearing quite often.

He has been disappearing, and reappearing in unexpected places.

They have been disappearing.

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