1

What is the difference between these two sentences:

1) We have been working on this for last two days. 

2) We are working on this for last two days

Please explain it to me.

  • It's been mentioned in the answer below but I think it's worth mentioning directly. It is normal to write ... working on this for the last two days. Missing out the the is possibly some sort of grammar mistake, it's certainly not a common thing to do. – Frank Sep 2 '14 at 15:07
  • @Frank: Wouldn't the imply the last 48 hours as opposed to the last two calendar days (say, Monday and Tuesday) if the is not used? Or would the omission of the be a mistake here? – CowperKettle Sep 2 '14 at 15:46
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    @CopperKettle It's the omission of the the that seems to be wrong. I'm not a grammar person so I'm not absolutely 100% sure if it is actually wrong but I am a native speaker and it's not something I would ever say and don't think I've ever heard it from a native speaker. I don't think there's a specific 48 hour exactly feeling to it, but it depends what you've been doing for the last two days (or often it would be the past two days). You might say the past few days which is even less precise. – Frank Sep 2 '14 at 16:35
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    @CopperKettle For precision you'd be much more likely to be precise in your words and say ... for the last 48 hours. In comparison the last couple of days, the last two days, the past two days are not very precise at all. – Frank Sep 2 '14 at 16:40
2

Your sentence 1 uses the Present Perfect Progressive. This tense is used to describe an action that was started in the past and either has just stopped or continues at the moment.

Sentence 2 uses the Present Continous. This tense is used to describe actions that are taking place now, at this exact moment (in our case), or will take place in the future.

We may use time expressions with the Present Continuous, but these time expressions usually underscore the currency of the action:

We are working on this / at the moment / currently / now.

I doubt that the time expression for the last two days is compatible with the Present Continuous, because two days is quite a stretch of time.

As ColleenV said in a comment below, this time expression effectively puts the action in the past, which is not okay. With the Present Continuous, our time markers should be either momentous (now, currently) or refer to the future (for the next two days, next Sunday).

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    I think the problem with for the last two days is the last which puts it in the past and makes it incompatible with present continous tense. "We are working on this for the next two days." would be OK. – ColleenV Sep 2 '14 at 13:38

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