What is the difference between

I haven't been exercising this week.


I haven't exercised this week.

Maybe the difference is that the 2nd sentence means that the number of exercises made is 0 and the 1st sentence means that maybe I did a couple of exercises but my exercises weren't regular, IDK. Please clarify what is the difference.

  • If the number of exercises so far this week is 0, you can only use the second one. You can't say the fist one. The first one is a made-up sentence. It is against the logic of Present Perfect Continuous Tense, because both the positive form and negative form of Present Perfect Continous, implies that there is at least some exercise that took place and probably will take place this week. If there is none so far, you can't mention about an activity which is in continuity, because it has never started.
    – Yunus
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 21:07
  • 1
    @yunus Sorry, I can't agree with you. I think you are over analysing the sentences. As a native BrE speaker I would consider both to be idiomatically acceptable and have exactly the same meaning regardless os the number of exercises performed - or not. Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 22:02
  • @PeterJennings, Yes, I over analyze sentences and I have reasons for it. In this forum, native speakers said Present Perfect focuses on the activity rather than its occurring or not. So, you might say "I haven't been exercising enough this week" because it apparently emphasizes that the negativeness is on the "non-adequacy" of the acivity, not on its not occurring. See this grammar web site and the negative sentences. All focus on the activity not occurring in a particular way or aspect, rather than not occurring at all. oysterenglish.com/present-perfect-continuous.html
    – Yunus
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 23:38
  • This is from another native speaker's explanation (Mari-Lou) on Present Perfect Continuous. She says "The Present Perfect Continuous is used for actions that are either still in progress or have recently ended." So, in this situation, the activity has never started this week, it is neither in progress nor recently ended. So why would I go for "Present perfect continuous", whereas The Present perfect is just the tense to refer to such situations.
    – Yunus
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 23:46
  • @Peter, please see this thread on the same grammer subject. ell.stackexchange.com/questions/170281/… Another native speaker says: The progressive simply puts a little nuanced emphasis on the ongoing aspect of the work. The temporal adverbial modifier can sometimes make the one or the other choice more likely. I haven't been sleeping well lately. I haven't slept all night.
    – Yunus
    Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


Let us put them into the positive.

"I have been exercising this week" emphasises a period of time.

"I have exercised this week" emphasises one or more occasions.


  1. I have been exercising regularly for several months now but I didn't exercise this week because I had a cold and stayed in bed.

  2. I haven't been exercising much this year but I exercised this week.

Does that help?

  • @chalsly, the examples start with a situation that has/has not been happening for some time, and then abruptly cuts off the relevance to present time in the second sentences, which is weird. So, the second sentences should be in present perfect, not in simple past. E.g in the second sentence, he is still in bed, otherwise he would be exercising. So, why use past tense, which means I am not in bed now. Please see this is from British council web site "...... We often use the present perfect to say what we've done in an unfinished time period, such as today, this week, this year, etc., ...."
    – Yunus
    Commented Feb 19, 2023 at 7:30

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