Tell me all you know.

First of all I thought they both mean doing a continuous action until the very present, until I saw the other post on pretty much the same topic. I feel what that post provide is incomplete so seek to get a more complete understanding of their difference.

Here is what it says: have is less of a continuous action than have been.

Have worked here, may indicate that you have been working or are working until now. It may also indicate you no longer work here but did in the past. This however sounds to be like a situation in which "had" is more appropriate.

One of the comments on that post, provide an exception. If you say "I have worked here since two years ago" it means you still work here. Now, I am confused how so trivial a preposition may change what "have" means. Hope someone can provide more exceptions like this.

  • 1
    I have been helping him implies both "continuing" action and that you're still helping at time of speaking. It's the continuous verb form that distinguished this from past perfect I have helped him (perhaps only once, briefly, long ago). You can in principle override the "not linked to the present moment" implications by saying I have helped him since we were children, but in reality most people would probably supplement the unavoidable implication of since by saying I have been helping him since [the year dot, or whatever. Jul 1, 2015 at 15:33
  • @FumbleFingers, since=from?
    – Doeser
    Jul 1, 2015 at 17:10
  • 2
    I'm not happy with "since two years ago". It's much more natural to say "I have worked here for two years". This expresses a continuous period of time, "Since" requires a specific point in time ("since the factory opened").
    – Margana
    Jul 1, 2015 at 17:13
  • Yes, but as @Margana correctly points out, it's far more natural to reference the timeframe of an "activity" lasting from some point in the past right up to the present moment by saying you've been doing/done it for [X amount of time] (you extrapolate the time when it started by going "back" X years from now). As opposed to saying I did it from when I was a child to/until [some later point in time, before now]. Jul 1, 2015 at 18:41

3 Answers 3

  1. I've worked here since two years ago


  1. I've been working here since two years ago.

The obvious difference between these sentences is the first sentence uses present perfect simple and the second sentence uses present perfect continuous. In many contexts, these tenses are interchangeable. However, we use present perfect continuous to emphasise the continuity of the action or event. Let's take a look at the sentences above, in the first sentence: The continuity of the event is not important. In the second sentence: You emphasise the lenght of time you're working there.

Another important thing about the usage of present perfect continuous and present perfect simple is, present perfect simple is typically used for stative verbs. For instance,

I've known him for six years.

It would sound weird if you say

I've been knowing him for six years.

To conclude, there is no quite difference between these two tenses. But the usage depends on the suitability in a context.

  • Note that "know" can never be used in any continuous (or participle) form. I'm knowing that you have been knowing this ever since. :)
    – iBug
    Mar 30, 2017 at 1:21
  • @iBug It's actually possible if we think that the state active in some period of time rather than a permanent attitude. But I think it's as scarce as hen's teeth. Mar 30, 2017 at 1:31

Interesting question. Let's look at two sentences.

  1. I have worked at the candy store.
  2. I have been working at the candy store.

The first sentence is in the present perfect tense. The second sentence is in the present perfect continuous tense.

The first sentence implies you worked at the candy store in the past but maybe no longer work there. The second sentence implies you are still working at the candy store.

I'll give two more comparisons that may help you.

  1. I have worked here since two years ago.
  2. I have been working here since two years ago.

These examples mean the same thing, even though the second sentence is in the continuous tense and the first is not.

  1. I have dated Allison.
  2. I have been dating Allison.

The first sentence means you dated Allison in the past, but it implies you are no longer dating. The second sentence means you are still dating Allison in the present.

  • Don't you think that "ago" is skerrick inapt here: "I have been working here since two years ago." ? I think the sentence should be: "I have been working here since two years."
    – Heisenberg
    Jul 8, 2016 at 3:48
  • Wouldnt you just say "I worked there"? why would you say "I have worked there"
    – Millemila
    Jan 23, 2022 at 19:09

The comment on the post saying "I have worked here since two years ago" is continuous because of the end phrase "since two years ago". The "since" makes it seem like you are still working at this place. "Have been" is preferred over "have" when it comes to actions that continue into the present. Using "have" may be confusing to the reader.

  • I disagree. "I have worked here since two years ago" is not "continuous". That would be "I have been working here since two years ago". It's potentially misleading/confusing to introduce the semantic aspect of stretching/continuing into the present moment when that term has such a specific grammatical sense. Jul 1, 2015 at 18:45
  • Since rwo years ago sounds steange. Probably "I have worked here for two years" and it's a completed action; you no longer work here. "I have been working here for five years" goes into the present but can slightly change depending on the intonation. One can look at a place that has changed since he moved; he had lived there for many years and says "I have been living here for 30 years and now look at this place". Mar 29, 2017 at 18:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .